Tuesday, October 27th 2020   |

Say Little, Do Much: Need


By time we say “Kol Dichfin Yeitei v’Yeichol, Kol Ditzrich Yeitei v’Yifsach” at our Seders (“Let all who are hungry come and eat, all who are in need come and observe the Passover”), we have already recited Kiddush, drunk the first cup of wine, ritually washed our hands, eaten “Karpas” (the green vegetable), and prepared the Afikoman! Why invite needy guests to join us so late in the process? What kind of insensitive, hesitant hospitality is that?!

The late super-centenarian, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv (1910-2012), taught that the Haggadah’s words of generosity are directed not at needy passersby, but at those already participating in the Seder. We are the ones in need. We must be reminded – especially during the course of a sumptuous and indulgent festive meal – that we have a year-round obligation to feed the hungry, and appropriately to provide for the religious needs of those who might otherwise be deprived of their religious tradition and spiritual fulfillment. This, according to Rabbi Elyashiv, is one of the essential lessons of our own historic experience as outcasts and refugees. This awareness is the very goal of recalling our Egyptian enslavement. “Kol Dichfin” is the moral heart of “Magid” – the ritual re-telling of the Exodus.

Such an invitation to social conscience could not be more timely.

(Rabbi Joseph H. Prouser is the rabbi of Temple Emanuel of North Jersey and the National Chaplain of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting.)

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