middot order torah order of leaving egypt

order of leaving egypt

Written by  rabbi benjamin ehrenfeld

art-haggadaIt is no small thing that the middah associated with the beginning of Pesach this year is seder (order). Drawing from insights I have heard and read from great scholars of our tradition, the general irony of seder in the midst of Pesach has not escaped me.

The exodus experience was one that overturned almost any sense of order the Jewish people had. Each and every plague was a deconstruction of the kind of order we counted on. Even the Pesach Seder itself is rather confusing. The big thing on Seder night is asking questions and only a few of them are actually answered! The Talmud tells us that we take a leafy green vegetable to eat on seder night just so the children will ask questions. They don’t give an answer. It’s even unclear when Pesach really begins. Is it the 14th of Nisan, or the 15th? One can come up with answers for all the unusual elements, but the real value here is that there is an overarching order even to experiences that defy our superficial picture of order.

a new order

There is an order to the seder, it’s just an unusual one. There was an order to yetziat mitzraim (leaving Egypt), but it was unsettling. Pesach is an experience that unsettles our normal order and replaces it with a new kind of order. We clean out our homes of things that seem so basic to have around: bread, flour, bread crumbs, etc. We sit and eat with people that we may have not seen since last year’s seder. For some people, the Seder is maybe the only thing they’ll do all year that is recognizably Torah related! Pesach upsets a certain kind of order and replaces it with a new one.

Each and every Besorah account of the death and resurrection of Yeshua includes mention of the disciples confusion about what was going on. This was not how it was supposed to happen. He was not supposed to die…people aren’t supposed to come back to life, either. This was God’s seder, not ours.

Order is a crucially important middah to cultivate. Lack of order in one’s life can often be a great source pain and stress for many people. This season, however, we are reminded of the importance of balance in the middah of seder. This season we’re thrown for a loop, taken for a ride that leads only to the place where God will choose. But, there’s an order to this journey also, and it’s one that we have an opportunity to tap into this season. May all of our seders be filled with joy, laughter, connection to the steps of the haggadah, lots of questions, a healthy dose of confusion, the kind of “drama” that makes you glad to be with the “fam,” and a sense of the bigger order.

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