Advanced Search

Passover–Questions & Answers


Question:

Why do we conduct the Seder in a manner of questions and answers?



AskTheRabbi.org answered:

A good question that deserves a good answer!

The best answer I have heard is the following. The “Chida” (Rabbi Chaim Yosef David Azulai) explains that there are three ways one can fulfill the mitzvah of the telling of the story of the Jewish People’s exodus from slavery in Egypt. The first way, which is the ideal, is to tell the story in the form of questions and answers. Our Talmudic Sages derive this from the Torah's description of matzah as "lechem oni", which translates as “the ‘bread’ over which a person answers (questions about what’s going on here on this special night).”

The second level is to tell the story even if nobody asks. This is derived from the verse "and you shall tell your son on that day..." This means that you should tell him even if he doesn't ask. Thus, the procedure of question and answer is preferable, but not absolutely necessary. (By the way, this is a rare example of l'chatchila (preferred) and b'dieved (acceptable, even though not preferred) in a Torah mitzvah.)

The third level is this: Even if a person is alone he must speak about the going out of Egypt. We say in the Passover Haggadah that Rabban Gamliel teaches that one must "say" three specific statements as the bare minimum to fulfill the mitzvah. These three are “Pesach, Matzah, Marror” — the Passover offering, eating unleavened bread and eating bitter herbs.

So we see that there are three possible levels on which to perform the mitzvah of "sippur yetziat Mitzrayim — i.e., telling of the story of the Jewish People’s exodus from slavery in Egypt.

The Chida adds that when introducing the fourth son — the one who doesn’t know how to ask any questions about Passover — the Haggadah uses the word "and." This teaches us that even if someone has other children who fit into the first three categories, he must also pay attention to the one who does not know how to ask. This is an important lesson for those who are tempted to make the Passover Seder an intellectual display that goes over the head of the youngest or least knowledgeable. 

May you have lots of good questions and answers on Passover!


Similar Questions
Holidays > Pesach
Women and Pesach
Counting Jewishly
Molasses on Passover
Exile in Egypt
Cleaning Can Opener
Grape Juice for Four Cups
Nuts and Corn on Passover
Exodus - Reality vs. Holywood
Festivals on Shabbat
Advice for Pesach Cleaning
Egg-Matza
Passover: Four for Freedom
I Came Out of Egypt
Shabbat HaGadol
Special Clothing at the Seder
Should the Hagadah be Recited in Hebrew?
When Erev Pesach Occurs on Shabbat
An Insight into the Meaning of Dayenu
Selling Chametz
The Passover Haggadah
Reclining at the Passover Meal
Yizkor on Joyous Holidays
Kosher Dog Food
Middle Matzah for Afikomen
Meaning of the "Four Cups"
Which Sea Did the Israelites Cross?
Four in the Haggadah
Refilling Wine Cups After Mentioning the Ten Plagues
Memorizing the Ten Plagues
Why Isn't Moshe's Mentioned in the Haggadah?
Number of Jews in Exodus
600,000 Jewish Souls
Passover
Plagues
Matza
Substitute for Shank Bone
Helping the Needy Celebrate Passover
Passover Inspiration
Two Day Festivals in the Diaspora
Starting the Pesach Seder Early
Refund for Shabbat and Yom Tov Expenses
Chametz After Pesach
Storing Pesach and Chametz Utensils
Delivering Pizza
Is Brewer's Yeast Chametz?
Pesach Menu - Then and Now
Kosher Wine
Afikomen
The Name of Passover
The Mouth Speaks
Readings on Pesach
The Seder and the Fifteen Steps
Pesach Appetizer
Four Cups of Freedom
Leaning on Pesach
Why All the Questions?
Pesach Q&A
Potato Starch Cakes
Who Knows Thirteen?
Riding a Tricycle
Tefillin on Chol Hamoed
Pesach Matza vs. Regular Matza
The First Month of the Year
Shabbat HaGadol – “The Great Shabbat”
“Diaspora Day”
Four Types of Freedom
Counting the “Omer”
A One Day Festival?
Counting the Omer
A Second Day of Yom Tov
Focusing on Our Children
Beans, Hummus on Passover
Passover Flour for the Needy
Disposal of Extra Haggadahs
Red, White and Not Blue
Splitting the Sea: Waves of Destiny
“Count Up”: From Pesach to Shavuot
Shabbat before Pesach - Shabbat HaGadol
Four Children — Four Generations
Yom Tov Candles
Passover With My Friend and Fido
Elijah at the Seder
Order of the Seder
The Thirteenth Month
Elijah
Have a question?
 
Gateways - Your Key to Jewish Continuity

AskTheRabbi.org is a service of the Gateways Organization © 2022
Technical problems? Please contact the AskTheRabbi Support team