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The Foundation Stone Haggadah: Urchatz 3: A Message of Hope

Every year we go through the same motions. We have finally made it to the Seder, everyone is at the table, women look exhausted, and there is the tension and excitement similar to when you are sitting on opening night for a new play.

We struggle to make Pesach fresh every year. The “motions” of the 15 steps to the Seder are the same, but the soul, that goes inside of the structure, the order, the “seder” is up to us to renew it, to refresh our souls.

As we recite the 15 steps, we make our way to Kadesh by making our first blessings and then are ready to move to steps 2 & 3: the enactment going to Urchatz and Karpas

So we read, following the script of the Hagadah, and we wash our hands. We know that this washing is without a blessing. As my Rebbi would say< Whyyyy?

So we learn that at the time of Temple in Jerusalem, there where many types of Tumah, (impurities). That one type of tumah was transmitted through water, so before eating a wet vegetable, we had to wash our hands to purify them. So the obvious question is, How come we do not do this any longer?

So our Sages decided that it was too much for the Jewish people to have this additional imposition on them to have to wash our hands (Netilat Yadaim) before eating a wet vegetable, and if some people would do it and others do not, then those people would give an air of arrogance in front of the ones who would not do it, almost as if saying, I am better than you…

But how interesting, that in Pesach, in which we start as slaves and we end as free people, our Sages sanctioned this “washing” as a fundamental step in the Seder. It is almost as if in order to go through the process of becoming a free man, you absolutely need urchatz, in order go eat Karpas.

When we live our life without hope, we are definitely slaves to the particular set of circumstances that was placed in our life for us to deal with. Someone whithout hope is no much more than a robot. In Pesach we start as slaves, and we end singing “May Next Year we all be in Jerusalem. We end Peasch with a high, with a taste of the coming of Moshiach, whichever definition of Moshiach you have (mine is defined by the Rambam, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon in this 13 principles of faith)

So what is the way I understand the sanctioning of the Sages to include Urchatz before eating Karpas? We are in exile and supposed to keep our hopes up that there is a plan for this existence after all, so washing and bringing a halacha that is needed at the time of the Temple is making that reality much more tangible. At the beginnimg of the Seder we are still slaves. The actual reenactement of this action to act as if the temple were standing and the laws of Tumah were absolutely valid starts permeating into our soul right at the start. It s the message of our Sages that we cannot afford loosing hope, it is a clear re-directing of what is important in our lives, the set the circumstances we are faced with are making us slaves.

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