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The Music of Halacha-Pesach-The Four Forms of Slavery IV

We now turn to the fourth type of servitude, upon which all others all built. The servitude and freedom marked by the Kos of Maggid, physical and psychological freedom.


There is a debate in Hilchot Avadim 1:6 between the Rambam and Raavad, regarding the prohibition of Avodat Parekh. The Rambam describes two cases of such labor: no end in sight and no use. When assigned a never ending task there is an immediate weariness, a sense that the body can’t go on, a psycho-physical ailment. When the worker senses that there is no benefit to his work he is psychologically debilitated.

The Egyptians imposed both forms of these bondage on the Jewish people. They built on quicksand, whatever they built sank, their work had no purpose. There was no end in sight. Men were given women’s work, women were given men’s work. Each, no matter how skilled, would be given work at which they were unadept. Physical and psychological bondage that were so successful that they felt that even to attempt to have children was futile, “Vayar et onyeinu”, zoh perishut derekh eretz.

This idea goes all the way back to Gan Eden: L’avdah u’Vshamrah. Even in our religious lives we must look for physical and psychological freedom. Rav Kook says that the beginning of Teshuvah is on our guf, our body. We must feel that there is a purpose to what we are doing. Ma Nishtana, Kol shelo amar…, and we must feel that there is an end, a goal, a purpose to all that we do in and with our religious lives.

Even with the debate whether the Haggadah should begin Avadim hayinu or m’tchilah, we begin with avadim, back breaking, mind boggling, physical and psychological servitude. We explain the whys and wherefores, and we declare that there is a purpose, “Barukh shomer havtachato“, “Vhee sh’amda

Financial Freedom – Baraikh,

Religious/Intellectual Freedom – Kadeish,

Moral Freedom – Hallel

Physical/Psychological Freedom – Maggid

Four cups of wine, four terms of redemption from four forms of servitude

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