June 16, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
June 16, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Uncertainty: How Should We Feel on Seder Night?

Every Seder night, we say that we are required to view ourselves as if we left Egypt. What emotions were Bnei Yisrael feeling at the time? How did our ancestors feel that fateful nights over three thousand years ago?

Leading up to this momentous evening—at God’s command—each family slaughters a lamb, which is one of the Egyptians gods. They proceed to spread its blood on their doorposts, and roast it over an open fire before the Egyptians’ very eyes. As they sit down to eat the Paschal lamb with matzah and bitter herbs—all dressed to leave—they know that God will, simultaneously, exact punishment on the Egyptian firstborns.

We don’t know precisely how the average Israelite felt, because Bnei Yisrael were silent during the plagues. Last we heard, they complained about the increased workload (5:21), ultimately refusing to listen to Moshe’s reassurances from God because of their “shortness of spirit and the hard work.” (6:9) We know they are terrified before the Red Sea splits when Egypt is chasing them, when they say, “Are there not enough graves in Egypt that you took us out to the desert to die? Didn’t we tell you we’d rather be slaves than die in the desert?” (Shemot 14:10-12).

In the interim, Bnei Yisrael were likely afraid, hopeful and nervous all at the same time. Regardless of how they felt, they followed God’s commands, such as korban Pesach (Shemot 12:28, 35, 50). Despite an uncertain future and internal turmoil, they observed God’s will—proving their mettle and setting the stage for their children and grandchildren.

But, before they actually slaughtered the lamb, they needed to check if their family could eat it all. If they could not, they would join together with their neighbors (Shemot 12: 3-4). By doing so, they not only prepared themselves, but strengthened those around them—by inquiring and making sure everyone was properly accounted for.

When we take our seats at the Seder this Pesach, each of us has our own hopes and desires for what tomorrow will hold. Each of us has history and traditions that we rely upon every day. No matter what struggles and challenges we face, or doubts and worries we harbor, we must remember and internalize that we are not alone. Our families and communities are there to support us, and God is ready to split the sea on our behalf. All that’s left for us is to connect to each other and our tradition—following God’s directions—as they guide us to the next stage.


Rabbi Metzger is on the faculty of three gap year programs for young women in Israel, Midreshet Amudim, Machon Maayan and Midreshet Amit. He and his family now live in Alon Shvut, Israel. Rabbi Chaim Metzger was Rabbinic Assistant at BAYT from 2020 to 2022, and an Avreich of Beit Midrash Zichron Dov. Please send questions and comments to [email protected]

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles