Avodah Mailing List
Volume 17 : Number 014
Monday, April 17 2006
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Wed, 12 Apr 2006 15:05:25 -0400 (EDT)
From: "R Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Forks in the Road to the Seder
From the Mishpacha essay cited by RSBA. It is a wonderful essay that I
think should be shared, I just added a few comments.
HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, shlita: Greeting Eliyahu HaNavi
Rav Elyashiv's countenance, which glows with an other-worldly light
even on an ordinary day, takes on an added glow of spirituality when he
recites the Pesach Haggadah. Everyone with him perceives it, say those
who are close to him. Maran makes a point of saying the entire Haggadah,
up to the drinking of the second of the four cups, within seventytwo
minutes. This is done in order to avoid the need to recite the blessing
of borei pri hagafen on the second cup, since the halachah stipulates
that digestion of wine is completed after seventytwo minutes.
Rav Elyashiv's grandchildren who have enjoyed the privilege of being
at his table for the Seder tell about this amazing sight: Every year,
when the door is opened for Eliyahu HaNavi and everyone assembled says
"Baruch haba! Welcome!" Maran gets up from his chair and stands fully
erect. His grandchildren are filled with awe at the sight, so much
that they cannot describe it. No one dares to speak with Rav Elyashiv
during those moments. The wonder on their faces when they talk about
the experience will have to suffice for a description.
Note that we have no description of the nature of the glow and the
amazing quality of his erect carriage: I suspect it is a manifestation
of Cheirus as Nobility.
HaRav Aharon Leib Steinman, shlita: Stringent -- But Only
Rav Steinman doesn't make Kiddush on Seder night until approximately two
hours after halachic sunset, when it is definitely night time according to
all opinions. He wears a kittel throughout the Seder. Until eight years
ago, Rav Steinman used to make the Seder in Jerusalem, at the home of
his son Rav Moshe Steinman. He would travel there on the number 400 bus
from Bnei Brak. Rav Aharon Leib's family says that every year his driver,
Reb Yitzchak Rosengarten, used to try to persuade the rosh yeshivah to
let him drive him to Jerusalem, but Rav Aharon Leib would always refuse,
telling his driver, "On erev Pesach, you should be helping at home. I'm
not willing to put you to the trouble," and head for the bus stop across
the street from his house.
The first night of Pesach was the only night of the year that Rav Steinman
spent outside his own home. On motzaei Yom Tov he would go to pray at
the Kosel, proceed to the home of Maran HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv,
and return to Bnei Brak by bus. But in the past few years, due to his
weak state, he has been making the Seder at home, with his children and
their families joining him.
One year, when Rav Steinman was feeling ill, he made the Seder at home
alone with his Rebbetzin, a"h. When his grandchildren finished the Seder
in their homes, they went over to their zeide's house to see how he
was feeling. They found him still at the Seder table, reclining in his
place and enthusiastically telling the story of yetzias Mitzrayim. He
continued until three o'clock in the morning. Rav Aharon Leib always used
an extremely sharp variety of horseradish until a few years ago,when he
felt ill after eating his portion of maror. The following year, romaine
lettuce was brought to him instead, but he wouldn't recite a blessing
on it because it wasn't sharp and bitter enough for him. He made it
clear, however, that this was not to be taken as a halachic ruling
for others. The year after that, he was offered chicory, specially
brought from France. This vegetable proved to be suitable, and since
then, his household makes sure each year that it is bitter enough, but
not so bitter as to shock the rosh yeshivah's delicate health. Although
Rav Steinman finds it difficult to drink wine, and he uses grape juice
year-round, on Seder night he makes a point of using wine, diluting it
with a small amount of water.
He reads the Haggadah aloud, while the rest of the company reads in an
undertone. One year, he said to his assistant, Rav Levenstein, that on
Seder night he should be very careful to focus on the mitzvah, "you shall
tell your son," and to relate the story of the Exodus in simple words,
with abundant explanations. The Yom Tov morning meal, the Rosh Yeshivah
said, is a good time to give the children a chance to talk about what
they learned in school or cheder, and the father should listen to what
they have to say.
Both he and RYSE are very meticuluous halachists -- indeed, all the
halachic stringencies related here are attributed to the Misnagdim.
HaRav Shmuel HaLevi Wosner, shlita: A Piyut by the Shlah in Old German
All year long, Rav Wosner's grandchildren eagerly anticipate Seder night
at their zeide's house. That's when they'll see him taking the afikomen
after yachatz, slinging it onto his shoulder, walking around the room
and saying, "This is how the bnei Yisrael left Egypt."
The company at the table eagerly await the moment when he sings the
piyut, Keil B'neh Beischa b'Karov -- Bau Dein Temple Shirah, composed
by the Shlah HaKodesh. Rav Wosner sings the sacred song in Old German,
from the Siddur haShlah, printed in that language.
Rav Wosner reads out the Haggadah clearly, interjecting midrashim on
the Exodus and vertlach on the Haggadah. At the Pesach meal, everyone
at the table opens a Rambam and the company learns the halachos involved
in bringing the pesach offering.
Rav Wosner reads the first halachah, and then each person at the table
reads a halachah in turn. This is intended as a substitute, until we
merit bringing the actual korban.
Very Maimonidean! Interesting that R' Vosner stresses that. Not sure why.
The Skverer Rebbe, shlita: Inspiration for the Coming Year
In the shtetlach of yore, erev Pesach must have felt this way. A palpable
sense of anticipation and yearning has settled upon the entire town
of New Square, a sense of simchah shel mitzvah and eagerness for the
glorious night ahead. During those last precious few hours, the Skverer
Rebbe is hard at work, baking the erev Pesach matzos.
As the Rebbe and his chassidim toil in this heightened atmosphere,
the timeless words of Hallel reverberate off the bakery walls. Not
just Hallel, but Hallel with a brachah, a tradition that the Rebbe has
received directly from his holy ancestor, the Meor Einayim, who in turn
received it from Eliyahu HaNavi.
The chassidim will then line up and each of them will receive two matzos
from the Rebbe's hands.
The Rebbe leads a Seder that is attended by over 500 participants. These
guests include the elderly chassidim who have already lost their wives,
the older bochurim of the Skverer yeshivah, and, of course, the troubled,
lonely souls who have been personally invited by the Rebbe. Each will
receive a place at one of the special stages that have been set up around
the Rebbe, three matzos from the Rebbe, and a complete Seder plate. The
Rebbe leads the Seder, reciting the Haggadah in a voice filled with both
joy and awe. The feeling of cheirus, freedom from all the constrictions
of this material world, is overpowering, as the many guests feel that
the some of the Rebbe's ahavas Hashem is overflowing into their hearts
For the fortunate participants in this sublime experience, there is
no question about what constitutes the high point of the Seder. It is
without a doubt the Rebbe's recital of Nishmas Kol Chai.
It is then that the wellsprings of devotion and passion in the Rebbe's
soul burst forth,finding expression in uncontrollable tears. The Rebbe
can barely utter the words of this sacred ode, as he is so overcome by
emotion. As the Rebbe approaches the words Ad heinah azarunu rachamecha...
his sobs reach their peak, and for many minutes the only sound in the
massive room is the poignant cries of the Rebbe. The Rebbe conceals his
radiant face behind his hands and allows the tears to flow; tears of
gratitude and thanks to Hashem.
The enraptured chassidim, who are trying to sear this image into their
consciousnesses, knowing that it will inspire them through another year,
wouldn't trade this moment for anything.
The Rebbe seems to be reviewing the endless chain of miracles and
kindnesses that Hashem has performed over the past year, for him and
the multitudes of Yidden who rely on his tefillos and brachos.
The Chassidim hold their collective breaths, allowing a Rebbe who carries
their burdens so faithfully to lead them in expressing thanks. And, with
his soul aflame, the Rebbe continues, beseeching Him for more... v'al
titsheinu Hashem Elokeinu lanetzach... may You never forsake us...
Truly dveykus oriented! -- to the point of chashash berachah l'vattalah!
HaRav Ovadia Yosef, shlita: The Seder Is for the Children
On Seder night, Rav Ovadia calls his little grandchildren to come sit
near him, and in the simplest possible language, he tells them about the
Ten Plagues and the other miracles and wonders that occurred when the
Jewish people were taken out of Egypt. On this first night of Pesach,
it is the young children who are the most important people.
Rav Ovadia's son, Rav David, shlita, says that, though his father spends
a long time dwelling on various points in the Haggadah, he makes sure
to finish reciting Hallel before halachic midnight. He's also extremely
careful that matzah and maror, bitter herbs, be distributed in the
quantities required by halachah, and in this, his practice is more
stringent than his own halachic rulings on the matter, for Rav Ovadia
wishes to fulfill the mitzvah according to all opinions.
Rav Ovadia enriches the story of the Exodus with many additional words of
Torah, and every year he offers different insights. "Ever since we were
children," says Rav David with a wistful expression, "we would spend a
lot of time preparing for Seder night, finding difficult points in the
Haggadah and answers to our own questions. This was our big opportunity to
'talk in learning' with our father."
The recitation of the Haggadah at Rav Ovadia's Seder table takes over
two hours. After midnight, the Rav secludes himself in his study and
stays up all night learning, until it's time for the Shacharis prayers.
ROY is a Misnagdic Sefardi -- I suspect the more Kabblistically inclined
Sefaradim have a more Chassidic-like Seder.
HaGaon HaRav Nissim Karelitz, shlita: What Makes this Night Different?
In his recitation of the Haggadah, Rav Nissim Karelitz focuses on
explaining the text, and he's very particular to make sure that the
children are listening and that they understand the answers to Mah
Nishtanah. The children know that they're expected to listen, and that
their zeide might ask them any moment if they understand what's being
said. In order to keep the children awake, Rav Nissim does things in a
way that is very obviously different than usual. For example, he takes
out the matzah with a special flourish.
His purpose is to prompt the children to ask questions, and thus to
fulfill the mitzvah of "When your son will ask you... "
Rav Nissim's Seder is not long. He reads the Haggadah clearly and refrains
from telling additional stories or vertlach. His manner, as usual, is
restrained, except when he comes to the first chapter of Hallel. Then he
displays an unusual degree of open fervor, reciting the verses in a loud,
joyful voice and at every place that mentions the going out from Egypt,
Rav Nissim raises his voice and says the words with an extra measure
Rav Nissim wears a kittel throughout the Seder. He sits in an armless
chair, and for haseibah, the mitzvah of reclining, he has a second chair
placed to his left, on which he leans. Water for netilas yadayim, laving,
is brought to the table for him, as part of the mitzvah to act as bnei
chorin, freemen and royalty, on this night. Rav Nissim tries to drink
the fourth cup of the Seder before halachic midnight.
Misnagdic to the core.
The Vizhnitzer Rebbe, shlita: Kedushah of Times Gone By
Seder night with the Vizhnitzer Rebbe is fraught with emotion and a
powerful sense of dveikus, clinging to Hashem. On this night, the Rebbe
wears the special yarmulke that has been passed down from generation
to generation in the Vizhnitzer dynasty for some 300 years. The Rebbe
wears this yarmulke only on the Yamim Noraim and on Seder night.
As is customary in Vizhnitz chassidus, before opening the Haggadah,
the chapter from the holy Zohar is recited which describes the angels
listening as the Jewish people conduct their Seders. When the Rebbe
reads this, he weeps profusely and tears roll down his cheeks. As the
Zohar goes into greater detail, describing how the angels listen to am
Yisrael talking about the miracles done for them by Hashem, Who never
abandons them in their troubles, he becomes more and more choked with
sobs. Rav Feivish Miller, chairman of the Vizhnitzer Union of Chassidim
and Students, and one of the Rebbe's closest confidants, says that those
fortunate enough to be at the Rebbe's Seder table also have the privilege
of seeing the sublime moment when he recites Hallel and Nishmas. Though
thousands of chassidim who join the Rebbe for davening every Shabbos
morning see him reciting Nishmas, he always pulls his tallis down,
hiding his face. The only time he can be seen reciting this prayer with
his face uncovered is on Seder night. Those sitting around the table
cannot restrain themselves from casting furtive, awestruck glances at
the Rebbe's face during those moments, bathed as it is in a glow of
holiness as from times gone by. Between piyutim, the rebbe engages his
guests in the singing of short, lively tunes. The Shulchan Aruch part of
the Seder, when the meal is served, is conducted similarly to a tisch,
and the Rebbe sings the piyutim Emes v'Emunah and Ezras Avoseinu with
the special melody of Vizhnitz chassidus. Chasal Siddur Pesach completes
the piyutim of Pesach night. The Rebbe's rendition of the song is long,
and he dwells at particular length on the words, "As we were privileged
to make this Seder, so may we be privileged to make it... next year in
Similar to the Skverrer.
The Gerrer Rebbe, shlita: Heavenly Favor and Salvation
At the home of the Gerrer Rebbe, the Seder is a family event, as is
customary with all the rebbes of Gur. Although the family is used to
eating with the Rebbe every Shabbos, they say that the experience of Seder
night is truly extraordinary. This is the one night of the year when the
Rebbe wears the yarmulke he inherited from his ancestor, Rav Yaakov Aryeh
of Radzimin, ztz"l, author of the Bikurei Aviv, who was famous throughout
Poland for bringing about miraculous salvations through his blessings
and prayers. The Rebbe begins the Seder with words of Torah. Those who
sit with him say that all through the year, they never hear him say such
amazing vertlach as he says on that night. They wait for the Seder all
year long. The Rebbe makes a rather long Seder, and he conducts it in a
special voice and with a special melody. Family members know that Seder
night is a particularly propitious time to approach the Rebbe for his
blessing, and they come to him then to seek Heavenly aid in all their
endeavors and difficulties.
The special Parshischer blend of dveykus and shleymus.
HaRav Moshe Shmuel Shapira, shlita: The Nigun of Reb Itchele of Volozhin
Every year, on the first night of Pesach, Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapira, the
elder among the roshei yeshivos, steps up to the amud in shul and recites
Hallel, pouring out his heart with the words of praise. At two points in
the prayer, he bursts out crying: once when he says "B'tzeis Yisrael
miMitzrayim" and again when he says "Hallelu-Kah."
Some of the students who live outside Eretz Yisrael remain in the yeshivah
for Pesach; they take part in Rav Moshe Shmuel's Seder. He reads the
Haggadah, giving interpretations as he goes along. At Seder's end, many
of Rav Shapira's neighbors come in and gather around to hear him sing
Chasal Siddur Pesach in the melody of Reb Itchele Volozhiner, the son of
Rav Chaim of Volozhin.
There's a story behind this nigun:
Reb Itchele was the shtadlan, the equivalent of a modern-day lobbyist, for
the Jewish community of his town. In that capacity, he often spent time in
the capital city of St. Petersburg. One year, while making efforts to have
a certain anti-Jewish decree repealed, he was forced to stay in the
vicinity of the royal palace until almost the start of Yom Kippur. After
he finished his task, he headed for the local shul. There, he encountered
a stunning spectacle. Agroup of cantonists, Jewish soldiers who had been
drafted into the tsar's army as young boys, had come to the shul. They had
long since forgotten how to read the holy words, so instead of saying the
prayers in the Yom Kippur machzor they had composed a prayer of their own.
They opened the aron kodesh, sang a hearfelt melody, and then they said,
"Ribono shel Olam! We don't know how to pray to You! We would like to give
You this nigun, and to say, 'May His great Name be magnified and
sanctified in this world!' " Deeply moved, Reb Itchele committed the tune
to memory. From that year on, it became his practice to sing Chasal Siddur
Pesach to that melody.
Every year, the students who sit around Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapira's Seder
table have the special experience of hearing this nigun and the story
behind it. Rav Moshe Shmuel sings it for them over and over again.
Interesting. Emotional Misnagdus.
The Sanzer Rebbe, shlita: Wine in a Glass Cupere
The Pesach Seder already begins at the Yom Tov davening. The Rebbe steps
up to the amud to recite the Maariv prayers, followed by Hallel. After
davening, thousands of chassidim pass before him and receive matzos
mitzvah, special matzos baked on the afternoon of erev Pesach. Since there
aren't enough matzos to go around, only the elder chassidim receive a
whole matzah from the Rebbe, while the others are given a piece. Before
Yom Tov, the Rebbe sends matzos and wine to the widows and orphans of
the community in order to support them and lift their spirits. The Rebbe
makes his Seder in the big Sanzer shul, in the company of hundreds of
young men who were married during the past year. Only men in their first
year of marriage are allowed to participate in the Rebbe's Seder. Young
couples from abroad are here; many have flown in especially to take part
in the Rebbe's Seder and will fly back right after Yom Tov. Everything
has a splendid appearance. The Rebbe is seated on the bimah, wearing a
sparkling white kittel, a tallis, and a special yarmulke inherited from
the Divrei Chaim, ztz"l. Acouch is set up for the Rebbe to recline upon,
in order to perform the mitzvah of haseibah in the manner customary to the
Sanzer dynasty. The chassidim do not wear a kittel, nor do they recline,
in accordance with the halachah that one does not perform haseibah in
the presence of his rav.
In the court of Sanz, it is customary to drink the four cups from a
glass cup which is placed inside a silver becher, a goblet embossed with
flowers and decorations. The reason for this is that wine can turn sour
from a silver utensil.
At the dinner which took place on erev Pesach last year in honor of the
start of Kiryat Sanz's fiftieth year, donors received a beautiful silver
cup fitted with a glass cup inside it.
When it comes time to say Mah Nishtanah, two large candles, placed
at the center of the table, are lit. Sanzer chassidim calls these
candles the "manishtanelech." The Four Questions are asked aloud by the
Rebbe's grandchildren and by orphan children, in order of age. After
the recitation of Mah Nishtanah, the Rebbe tells our history, from the
Creation through the Exodus, detailing the events of all the generations
in simple, clear language.
Throughout the reading of the Haggadah, between piyutim, the Rebbe stops
to say words of Torah. Close to halachic midnight, the Rebbe washes his
hands and eats a k'zayis, the prescribed measure of matzah, followed by
the afikomen. At this time, he instructs all the chassidim to eat the meal
at their leisure, while he reclines on his couch, studying seforim. The
tradition of "stealing the afikomen" is not practiced in Sanz, so that
the children should not learn to steal. Instead, the Rebbe places the
afikomen in an inner pocket of his kittel, and at the end of the meal
he distributes it to the chassidim, as they pass before him to receive
his blessing. After the Seder, the joyousness of the night overflows,
and the Rebbe dances with his chassidim until the early morning.
There are certain types of sedorim you can only prav if you are a Rebbe...
HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita: Halachic Meticulousness
Bedikas chometz, searching out the chometz, at Rav Chaim Kanievsky's house
takes at least four hours, sometimes five. He lifts shelves from their
holders, takes things out of cupboards and closets to get a clearer view,
and ruffles the curtains to see what's behind them, so that not a speck
of chometz escape his notice. Family members are sometimes required to
move standing cupboards so that he can check more thoroughly.
On Pesach night, when Rav Chaim comes home from Maariv, he prepares
for the Seder calmly. First he hands out bags of nuts to all his
grandchildren, in order of age, as his father, the Steipler Rav, did in
At the Seder table, Rav Chaim is exceedingly careful about every one of
the mitzvos of this night, making sure everything is done according to
halachah in every detail. For maror, he uses chazeres in the quantity
prescribed by the Chazon Ish, spooning a little charoses onto the
Rav Chaim reads out the Haggadah in a deliberate manner, pronouncing
every word clearly, and the atmosphere he engenders is a serious one. He
stops from time to time to give an explanation of the words or to say a
vort. Only during Hallel, when it's time to say the words B'tzeis Yisrael
miMitzrayim, does the atmosphere lighten up somewhat, as Rav Chaim sings
this passage joyously. Those who have made the Seder with him say that
his face seems to blaze with fire as he sings, becoming covered with a
red glow. "He looks like a malach Elokim," as they put it, an angel on
high. The piyut, V'hi sh'Amdah, is also sung, and Rav Chaim sings it
a second time, turning his eyes Heavenward as the company watches him
with a tremor of awe.
After the Seder, Rav Chaim says Shir haShirim, the Song of Songs, and
then sits and learns Torah until dawn -- or until sleep overtakes him.
Misnaged plus -- but who would have thought otherwise?
Rav Chaim Stein, shlita: In Every Generation They Rise up Against us
Rav Chaim Stein has been confronted by evil in his life. After escaping
the Nazis, he arrived in the United States, where he joined the staff
of the nascent Telshe Yeshivah. There, he encountered the apathy
and suspicion of the American Jewish establishment, who viewed the
yeshivah's dreams as hopelessly naive. Rav Chaim triumphed again, serving
the yeshivah, one of America's most prominent, for over five decades,
viewing the resurrection of the world that he had seen go up in flames.
Surely, it is these visions that flash before his eyes as he sings V'hi
sh'Amdah. He knows better than most how "In every generation they rise
up against us to annihilate us, but HaKadosh Baruch Hu saves us from
His grandchildren relate that this particular passage is the high point
of his Seder. He sings it three times with great emotion, and each year,
he repeats the Avudraham's explanation: the reason that they rise up
against us in every generation is so that "HaKadosh Baruch Hu has the
opportunity to show us that he never removes his protection from the
Jewish nation." The rosh yeshivah also recites Hallel with extraordinary
feeling, standing all the while, and appointing one of his granchildren
as a chazan. He sings an especially stirring tune for B'tzeis Yisrael,
one that he learned at the Seder of Rav Elchanan Wasserman, as a bochur
Not quite enough data.
The Belzer Rebbe, shlita: Seder for 1,000 Bochurim
Among Belzer chassidim, Pesach is known as "the Rebbe's Yom Tov." Long
before the holiday, the rebbe is already asking the gabbaim of the
enormous Belzer shul, "Nu, are you getting ready for Yom Tov? Have you
started cleaning the seforim and the shul?" On many an occasion, he has
been heard to remark that Elul is the month of preparation for the holy
days of Tishrei, and Adar is the time to prepare for Pesach.
The Rebbe's Seder takes place in the majestic Belzer shul atop one
of Jerusalem's many hills, in the presence of some 1,000 students of
the Belzer yeshivos gedolos. Tables are set up, with a place for every
bochur clearly labeled with his name. Married chassidim are not allowed
to participate, but, unwilling to miss the experience, they show up
in droves towards the end, after they've completed their own Seders at
home. No seats are arranged for them, but they happily make do with the
"standing room only" in the area set aside for them.
The Seder itself is a delight. Speaking as a father to his sons, the
rebbe explains every passage of the Haggadah. Every now and then, he
switches from Yiddish to Hebrew for several minutes, for the benefit of
the bochurim from Belz's yeshivos for the newly observant. When the Seder
is finished, everyone gets up to dance, led by the Rebbe himself. The
dancing goes on for quite a while, and afterwards the entire company goes
out for a stroll around the neighborhood, as a sign that this is a leil
shimurim, a night of special Divine protection. On Pesach night three
years ago, the Rebbe danced with such fervor that he collapsed into his
chair, exhausted. The students and assistants rushed over in alarm, but
he told them not to worry; it was only a temporary weak spell, brought
on by the exertion of dancing. After resting for a while in his chair,
the Rebbe stood up and joined his chassidim for the traditional stroll
through the streets of Kiryat Belz.
The next day, one of the Rebbe's confidants asked him why he had
danced so hard that he'd grown faint. The Rebbe explained, "The Yamim
Noraim, High Holy Days, are spread out over several days, but the great
holiness of Seder night, with all its mitzvos, are concentrated into
a twenty-four-hour period, beginning with biyur chometz, searching
out the chometz on erev Pesach and concluding at the end of the Seder
night." The Rebbe, therefore, had been striving to absorb as much of
the day's holiness as he possibly could, with his fervent dancing.
More of the kind of Seder only a Rebbe can prav.
The Sadigerer Rebbe, shlita: Kuf, Peh, Daled? There's No Such Shoresh Here
Every year as Pesach draws near, the students in Yeshivas Sadigura are in
high suspense: Who will merit to be at the Rebbe's house for the Seder?
Shortly before the festival, about twenty students are informed that they
are the lucky ones who will make their Seder with the rebbe this year.
Rav Avraham Yaakov Zilberschlag, one of the rebbe's assistants, says,
"As a bochur, I was privileged several times to take part in the Rebbe's
Seder, and the experience is permanently engraved in my memory.
"When the Rebbe makes the Seder, he gives everyone there a feeling of
wellbeing, serenity, and joy. Time ceases to exist. A feeling of being
royalty and freemen is enhanced by the way the table is set with antique
utensils, some of them made of gold. The Rebbe's Seder is a luxurious
"Aside from reading out the seder ha-Haggadah, the Rebbe hardly speaks,
except for a few very brief words. But there are special passages in
the Haggadah on which the Rebbe lingers."
One interesting incident that Zilberschlag recalls happened many years ago
on erev Pesach, when he was a student in Yeshivas Sadigura. "A group of us
were helping with the Pesach cleaning in the Rebbe's house," he relates.
"One of the bochurim got upset with another bochur and started yelling
at him. To his surprise, the Rebbe came out of his room to say to him,
'The shoresh "kuf, peh, daled" -- the "root" of being annoyed with one
another -- doesn't exist in my house.' This really is the atmosphere
there, and on Seder night, it's felt twice as strongly."
Not quite enough data.
Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky, shlita: The Kingship of the Almighty
For Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky, the rosh yeshivah of the Philadelphia Yeshivah,
the Seder has always been about the children -- about listening, waiting
patiently, explaining, ensuring that the responsibility that has been
passed down from father to son ever since that first miraculous night,
is being fulfilled. The rosh yeshivah doesn't spend time expounding and
saying vertlach, during Maggid. In fact, he always recalls the Sedarim
that he spent as a bochur at the table of his rosh yeshivah, Rav Aharon
Kotler, for whom "It was Maggid k'pshuto" -- simply telling what happened.
Yet each year, after all the children ask the Mah Nishtanah, and after
the rosh yeshivah, himself, has recited the four questions, he says,
in a voice filled with enthusiasm, "Kinderlach, dos is der teirutz," --
Children, here is the answer." He will then explain how Avadim Hayinu,
We Were Slaves, answers the questions. The rosh yeshivah uses a slightly
larger goblet for Kiddush then for the next three cups, and doesn't
interrupt between reciting the hamotzi until after korech, saying zecher
l'Mikdosh k'Hillel only after having eaten korech. The rosh yeshivah
tries to complete Hallel before chatzos, halachic midnight.
One of the highlights of the Seder is the singing of the piyut Adir
B'Mluchah, for which the rosh yeshivah uses an exuberant, heartening tune.
The nigun is especially meaningful to him, as he learned it from an
elderly, broken Stoliner chassid, a Holocaust survivor who had lost
his family in the camps. Each year, he would spend the Seder with the
rosh yeshivah's father, Rav Yaakov, and sing this nigun. As he sang the
glorious words proclaiming the Kingship of the Almighty, those present
could sense that he was reaffirming his own belief in the message,
even in the face of all that had transpired. The rosh yeshivah recalls
the joy that the nigun brought to that elderly Yid, and the same joyous
notes inspire those at the rosh yeshivah's table each year.
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