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Hagaddah - Shana BaAretz, NishmatThe Seder evening is one of discussion, tradition, festivities, food, and contemplation. Rav Yehoshua eloquently explains the ultimate purpose and goal of the Seder evening — to question. As D’vrei Torah are explicated, seemingly peculiar practices are experienced and the final song is sung the question begs to be asked — what is the point? While the answer given since kindergarten has been to simply tell the story of the Exodus, which still remains true, this answer feels unsatisfying to the thinking, contemplative, and intelligent women of Shana Ba’aretz5774. However, as Rav Yehoshua explicates, there is more to the Seder process than meets the eye.

The word “seder” literally means to organize. It is during this time, as we try to organize the events of becoming a Jewish people, that the opportunity presents itself to question the very topic that we are set out to discuss. The Seder purposefully has ambiguous aspects; the story that is told is intentionally different than the story in the Torah as well as the mitzvot to re-tellthe story, and the questions that we are prompted to ask deliberately remain unanswered. The Seder is not a time to be answered, but rather it is a time to serve a springboard to continue to ask. It is our mission as active thinkers of the Jewish people to deal with the questions that we have regarding our faith, religion, and practice. Furthermore, we should not let our intellectual pursuits stop

once nirtzah commences, but keep the conversation going. We are commanded to feel as though each and every one of us was a slave in Egypt and are currently experiencing redemption. Let the Seder be that high, feel and embrace the inquisitive environment surrounding you, feed off of the atmosphere. But don’t let it stop there. Internalize the high you get from the Seder and let it fuel you to question, learn, and hopefully answer, until a newSeder in the year to come.

This explanation of the Seder evening deeply resonated with Shana Ba’aretz 5774, as it is quite symbolic of our gap-year. We are at Nishmat, learning full time in Jerusalem at an incredible institution; the growth-oriented atmosphere is contagious. We have so much time to question, learn, and grow that one cannot imagine that it does not last forever. However, we all know that soon we must leave this safe, warm, conducive environment for a multitude of futures that lie ahead. It is through the Seder and the group completion of this Hagaddah that we gain the courage and understanding that we too must continue to question beyond the Seder night and beyond this year. We must use the tools that we have learned and the experience that we have been given to stimulate us to remain active, learning, committed Jewish women in the years to come. Through our individual merit, as expressed through each d’var torah, as well our group dynamic, as expressed through the completion of this Hagaddah, Shana Ba’aretz 5774 takes the challenge head- on to strive to internalize what we have learned this year and apply that to the rest of our lives. We hope that you are inspired by the words of Torah that you are about to hear and read, and that you take on our challenge as well.

Chag Sameach,

Jessica Reich, Gabriela Hoberman, and Jannah Laserson, Shana BaAretz 5774

*Cover Art by Sho