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Hungry? Come Eat!

04/01/2022 12:01:37 PM

Apr1

Anyone who has ever attended a Passover Seder is familiar with this statement from the Ha Lachma Anya. Toward the beginning of the Seder, the broken Matzah is raised up by the leader and we say,

This is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt.
Whoever is hungry - come and eat!
Whoever is needy - come and celebrate Passover!
Now, we are here; next year in the Land of Israel!
Now we are slaves; next year may we be free!


While this sounds like a generous invitation to come eat with us, it is odd that it is only said once we are seated around the table, and will be eating soon. We certainly don’t go to much trouble finding people to join us. We don’t open the door and shout to the neighborhood. Even if we did, who would come?

There is a story in the Talmud (Taanit 20b) about Rav Huna. Before he sat down to enjoy any meal, he would go outside and say, “Anyone in need, come and eat!” Others said that, while this is an incredible gesture, it is impractical for a person with average means to feed all people who are in need.

It has been suggested that this statement in the Hagaddah is simply a reiteration of an announcement that was made earlier, in the synagogue. As we make our individual Passover preparations and consider who to invite, we think of those who are alone or in need. It is our individual and collective responsibility to make sure that nobody goes hungry or alone on Seder night. This responsibility is also a central theme of Passover, which is perhaps why it is declared at the beginning of the Seder.

The first mention of the word Matzah in the Torah is early in Genesis, in the story of Sodom & Gomorrah. After visiting Abraham and Sarah, God’s messengers went to visit Lot. He quickly invited the strangers in and served them dinner and Matzah. Rashi explains that he did so because it was Passover. Since this story took place long before the Exodus from Egypt, Rashi must be expressing how important the value of making sure that everyone has a place to go for the Passover meal is.

For the past nine years, we have been proud to offer a community Seder on the second night of Passover. Lou & Suzie Numkin sponsor this event, in memory of his dear parents, Ruth & Bernard Numkin z”l. This year, please consider joining us and spreading the word that all are welcome.

Additionally, we are helping to match people who need a place for the First Seder on Friday, April 15th. We would love to hear from you if you have an extra seat or two at your table. Also, if you need a place to go for the First Seder, please let us know and we will try to make a shidduch. It is a wonderful way to make friends, build community, and fulfill the spirit of Passover.

Please click here to let us know if you can host or would like to be a guest at someone’s home for the first Seder.

Click here to register for the Second Seder at HTAA. As always, let me know privately if financial constraints are preventing you from signing up.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom, Chodesh Tov, and a Peachy Pesach Putz,

Rabbi Suson

Sat, July 2 2022 3 Tammuz 5782