Rabbi Binyomin Adler – Pesach and How to Succeed in Torah

We begin the Haggadah with the words הא לחמא עניא די אכלו אבהתנא בארעא דמצרים כל דכפין ייתי ויכול כל דצריך ייתי ויפסח, this is the bread of poverty which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt. Whoever is hungry, let him come and eat. Whoever is in need, let him come and celebrate the Pesach. Rav Moshe Shternbuch, shlita, in his classic Modaim Uzmanim (Volume 3:254), wonders why this proclamation is unique to Pesach. Do we not have an obligation on every festival to invite the poor and the hungry? Rav Shternbuch answers that the Vilna Gaon points out that it is said (Shemos 13:6-7)  שִׁבְעַת יָמִים תֹּאכַל מַצֹּת וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי חַג לַי-ה-וָֹ-ה: {ז} מַצּוֹת יֵאָכֵל אֵת שִׁבְעַת הַיָּמִים וְלֹא יֵרָאֶה לְךָ חָמֵץ וְלֹא יֵרָאֶה לְךָ שְׂאֹר בְּכָל גְּבֻלֶךָ, for a seven-day period shall you eat matzos, and on the seventh day there shall be a festival to HaShem. Matzos shall be eaten throughout the seven-day period; no chametz may be seen in your possession, nor may leaven be seen in your possession in all your borders. Why does the Torah repeat the injunction to eat matzos for seven days? The Vilna Gaon explained that the first command is that every individual should eat matzah for all seven days. The second command, however, states יֵאָכֵל, that one should ensure that others have matzah to eat for the entire Pesach. Thus, it is specifically on Pesach where we are required by the Torah to feed others. Yet, this still does not explain why we are specifically required to invite guests to the Pesach Seder (See Rav Shternbuch’s suggestion for an answer).
We can suggest an alternative answer to this question. It is clear that this invitation is not the classic invitation to invite a guest for a meal, as we are already past Kiddush and we are not chasing down people on the street who require a meal. Rather, we are declaring that those who are hungry, i.e those who wish to live a Torah life, should come and eat. The MIshna (Avos 6:4) states כַּךְ הִיא דַּרְכָּהּ שֶׁל תּוֹרָה, פַּת בְּמֶלַח תֹּאכַל, וּמַיִם בִּמְשׂוּרָה תִשְׁתֶּה, וְעַל הָאָרֶץ תִּישַׁן, וְחַיֵּי צַעַר תִּחְיֶה, וּבַתּוֹרָה אַתָּה עָמֵל, אִם אַתָּה עֹשֶׂה כֵן, אַשְׁרֶיךָ וְטוֹב לָךְ. אַשְׁרֶיךָ בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה וְטוֹב לָךְ לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא, this is the way of Torah, eat bread with salt, and drink measured water. Sleep on the earth, and lead a life of distress, and toil in the study of Torah. If you do this, you are fortunate and it will be good for you. You will be fortunate in this world and it will be good for you in the next world. Thus, the author of the Haggadah is stating here that if one is hungry, i.e. he is willing to maintain a state of never being full, he should adopt the Mishna’s method of pursuing a life of toil in studying Torah. The word ויכול, besides its literal meaning of eating, can also be interpreted to mean conquest, as it is said (Devarim 12:16) לֹא תוּכַל לֶאֱכֹל בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ, and Rashi explains that this means that one is able to but is not allowed to. Similarly, here we say that if one takes an austere approach to Torah study, then ייתי ויכול, he will be able to and he will succeed in the toil of studying Torah. It is noteworthy that the first letters of the words כל דכפין ייתי ויכול and the first letters of the words כל דצריך ייתי ויפסח equal in gematria 40, which is an allusion to the Torah which HaShem gave to Moshe after spending forty days on the mountain.
Pesach is the genesis of our freedom, which culminates in Shavuos, the celebration of our receiving the Torah. When we sit down to the Seder, we commence the proceedings by declaring that the proper way to achieve success in Torah study is by living an ascetic life and then one will truly have attained freedom.

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