Bolt of Inspiration 16 - Haggadah Special- The Wayward Teen and the Satmar Rov

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August 18 2009
On occasion I have the challenging, yet rewarding, task of working with at-risk teens. In one pre-Pesach class I decided to present a possibly contentious interpretation of the Haggadah. I was curious to see how these students would react. The interpretation is that of the brilliant Rav Yoel Teitelbaum ZT”L, the Satmar Rov. The Satmar Rov was known for his sharp wit and tough talk. He raises the question of why we perform the yachatz (breaking the middle matzah) before beginning the maggid (recounting of the story of the Exodus) portion of the Haggadah. The Satmar Rov answers that in order to properly begin a holy endeavor we must first discard all that is bad from our midst. We must break off and cast aside the wicked, the apikores, those that tend to bring us down with their moral failings and lack of Jewish observance.

The moment I shared this thought, I could see the blood of my students reddening. But it was the insight of one student, who we shall call David, that shook my perspective of the Passover Seder. David tends to come off as irreverent, lost, and at times depressed. But at this moment he had reached a level of clarity seldom seen by anyone. He turned to me and with blazing passion in his eyes, he said “I disagree! We do not cast away this broken matzah. In fact, we hide it, protect it, and when the time is right – at the highlight of our Seder – Tzafun, the emergence of the Afikomen, we bring that “discarded” one front and center.” We may need an occasional “time out”, but we are never out of love’s reach.

And together we fell to weeping.


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“A Bolt of Inspiration” is a brief weekly spiritual thought presented by Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn. Rabbi Einhorn is the Rabbi of the West Side Institutional Synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

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