Just a week from now, we will be after the Seder and deep into the joys of the rest of Pesach.
Is your emunah shaky?
You may be one of those who tend to believe that you have mastered the art of disbelief. You have let yourself hope, and felt the pain of disappointment enough times to be afraid to hope again You have been on enough nightmare dates to thinking, “What’s the catch” when a shadchan calls you gushing with praise for the Latest and Greatest. You may have had a job proposal that sounds too good to be true, so you assume that it probably isn’t. There's more to emunah than that. The seder can connect you to the part of you that is still simple and childlike, and willing to take chances.
Let the question answer format aimed at kids is to bring you back to the simplicity of childhood. No actual child will spontaneously ask the four questions. They are posed at the very beginning of the Seder when the poor kid has no reason to be curious about the things he is asking about. He has no idea as to whether or not bread may come out later (although odds are that his mom may have rendered him gluten free several days before the Great Night). He also has no need to ask about the moror or the dipping that have not yet been tasted, or the fact that everyone is reclining when it looks like all the guys are getting ready for the Best Pillow Fight Ever. The questions are there to evoke willingness to hear answers.
Are you afraid to be simple? Sometimes the answers don’t penetrate. You may afraid to hope, and the best escape is to not let yourself feel This sort of greyish pessimism colors the Seder far too often. It can even take you to a place where you are afraid to be inspired. Can you take the risk of letting the kind of miracles that shook the entire world into belief and faith in Hashem to touch you? You may be afraid of a letdown, in which you will hurtle downwards after the euphoria fades. You may be afraid of what feels like exaggerated hope and eagerness. This fear may have begun when you thought about getting ready for Pesach, and the thought of facing the chametz in your house was nothing compared to the avoidance and fear of facing the chametz in your heart-your inner chaos and murky mixture of good and bad traits. Pesach is such a matriarchal holiday. The number four pops out so frequently in the Hagadah! The sons, the questions, the cups of wine (and the four expressions of liberation recorded in the Torah that are the source of our drinking the four cups. Hashem declared, "I took you out", "I rescued you" "I redeemed you" and "I took you to me".)
Maharal says that the four cups of wine hint at our four Mothers; Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Leah. They accompanied the three Avos, Avraham Yitzchak and Yaakov (who are symbolized by the three matzos) on their journey of redefining reality. So little is written about them! You can see more about who they were when you look at the imprint that they left behind, much in the way that you can really tell more about a surgeon by looking at his patients than by looking at his photo. You are Jewish if your mother is Jewish. This is true even if for some reason you turned your back on your heritage, or, for that matter, if you never even knew anything about your heritage. “When wine goes in, secrets go out” the old adage tells you. The four cups of wine, symbolizing the matriarchs give you access to the self that is often hidden.
The “secret” of the Jewish People is emunah. The emunah, the faith that the matriarchs felt and lived with, each in her own way, left this kind of indelible impression.
You can also understand how easy it was for your ancestors in Egypt to doubt that G-d could have possibly sent Moshe to rescue them from Egyptian slavery. Imagine being a Jewish slave, who lived with daily degradation and had nothing very much to show for his inner life. It must have been almost impossible for him to believe that Hashem referred to him as His firstborn child. The Egyptian exile was called "galus hadaas", a place of grueling mental depravation. We lost our ability to think in terms of real connection to Hashem.
The miracles turned on our daas then. Your challenge is to let it do the same for you this Pesach. The more you can speak out the words of the Hagaddah and feel dialogue, the closer you are to being able to let go of your fears of connection and of being loved as you are.
Have a happy Chag!
P.S The ideas here are taken almost directly from Lekutei Halachos