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Monday, Nissan 5 5783 (Hakhel Year) / March 27, 2023


Next week, Wednesday night, April 5, will start the Pesach (Passover) holiday, celebrating our liberation from Egyptian slavery and bondage. Jews were in Egypt for 210 years before being liberated.


When Yaakov and his family moved to Egypt, they were only seventy people. When they came out of Egypt, 210 years later, they numbered a few million.


In Israel the holiday is celebrated seven days and only one Seder.  In the Diaspora, we celebrate Pesach for eight days and perform two Sedarim. The additional Seder and additional day of holiday celebrated in the Diaspora is a tradition which goes back over 2000 years.


Q.  Why is it preferable to use round Shmurah Matzah for the "Seder plate?"


A.   The Torah refers to the matzah which the Jewish people baked when leaving Egypt as "ugot Matzot."  The word "ugot" commonly represents something round.


Q.  What is the difference between Shmurah matzah and regular matzah?


A.  In order for matzot to be kosher for Pesach the flour has to be carefully guarded not to come into contact with water. Once it does come into contact, it has to be baked within 18 minutes. The shmurah matzah is baked from flour which was guarded from coming in contact with water from the time of harvest, much before it was made into flour. It’s a higher degree of carefulness to observe the mitzvah of matzah.   


Q.  Were all Jews liberated from Egypt at the time of the Exodus?


A.  According to our sages only one fifth of the Jews were liberated at the time of the Exodus. The other four fifths died during the plague of Darkness. The reason they were not liberated was because they didn’t want to leave Egypt. They preferred to stay in Egypt, for which G-d punished them.  


Q. What is the significance of the hard-boiled egg on the Seder plate?


A.   A mourner, who, G-d forbid, lost a parent etc., eats a hard-boiled egg at their first meal after the funeral. The egg at the Seder reminds us that, although we are celebrating our freedom, yet, at the same time we mourn the loss of our Beth Hamikdash (Holy Temple).


Just as at a wedding ceremony, the groom breaks a glass to remember the destruction of the Holy Temple, so too, at the Seder, we are reminded of our great loss – the destruction of the Temple. May it be rebuilt speedily in our days, with the coming of Moshiach. Amen.  


Q.  Why is it important to eat the Afikoman matzah before midnight?


A.  The matzah eaten for the Afikoman represents the Passover sacrifice at the time of the Temple.  The meat of the sacrifice had to be eaten before midnight, thus, we eat the Afikoman before midnight.