Ritual Wisdom

Ritual Wisdom 3-26-2021

This Shabbat, the Shabbat before Pesach is called, Shabbat HaGadol – the Great Shabbat. The reason is that on the last Shabbat in Egypt Jews witnessed GREAT miracles.

The Torah reading this Shabbat is  Tzav – the second reading in the Book of Leviticus (Vayikra).

Q. One of the items placed on the Seder plate is a hard boiled egg. What does the egg represent?

A. The egg represents the Chagiga sacrifice which was brought in the Temple and eaten before the Pesach sacrifice at the Seder.

Also, a mourner eats an egg at the first meal when beginning the Shiva. The egg is round and symbolizes the cycle of life. Thus, the egg is a symbol of mourning. Our Sages tell us that at the time of our rejoicing, we must also remember the destruction of the Holy Temple. Thus, we place an egg at the Seder table to remember that although we are gathered at the Seder to rejoice and celebrate our freedom, our joy is not complete without our Holy Temple.

Rabbi Abraham Iben Ezra has another interpretation for the egg at the Seder. He explains that eggs were a forbidden food in Egypt. The egg at the Seder symbolizes our freedom from the Egyptians.

Also, unlike other foods, eggs become firmer when boiled. This recalls the story of the Jewish people in Egypt. The Torah tells us that the more the Jewish people were afflicted, the more they multiplied and became exceedingly mighty.

On the lighter side: A wealthy man was fond of a particular beggar. Every year, before Pesach he gave the poor man 500 rubles.

Once, when the poor man came for his annual Pesach donation, the rich man gave him only 250 rubles.

“What is the meaning of this?” asked the beggar. “This is only half of what you usually give me.”

“I’m sorry, but I must cut my expenses,” replied the benefactor apologetically. This year my daughter married a young man who is studying in Yeshiva. Between the wedding bills and their support I cannot give you more.

“What!” cried the poor man, “you marry off your daughter and support her and her husband on my account?!”




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