"This is the statute of the Passover sacrifice…. It must be eaten in one house…. The entire community of Israel shall make it.” (Shemos 12:43–47)

Dovid Hamelech writes in Tehillim (119:80): “May my heart be perfectly aligned with your statutes.”

According to the midrash (Shemos Rabbah 19:20), this refers to the chukim, statutes, of Korban Pesach and parah adumah. Why is the Korban Pesach considered a chok?

The Torah states that the Korban Pesach is brought as “one lamb for each house.” People organized themselves into groups that would slaughter and eat the korban. Only a preassigned member of the group was allowed to partake. Yet the pasuk also states that the entire united congregation of Israel must slaughter it — meaning the nation performs the mitzvah as one. These two contradictions classify the Korban Pesach as a chok.

We normally think of a chok as a mitzvah that we cannot logically understand. Nevertheless, the Rambam (hilchos Temurah 4:13) says that it’s commendable to delve into the Torah’s chukim to the extent that our limited intellect can grasp. (Rabbi Dovid Hofstedter, Dorash Dovid)


For many years, Pesach meant going home. Home to my parents and my in-laws, to gratefully take off the yoke of being an adult and bask in the chinuch of being at our parents’ tables. During Leil Haseder, my husband and I enjoyed sharing our unique childhood traditions with each other.

But life goes on; we grew up and it was time to make our own Seder. It was interesting to see which childhood traditions had made the greatest impression on us, which ones we’d incorporate within our Seder to pass on to our children. Despite missing family, I looked forward every year to continuing the mesorah within our own family.

The two aspects of Korban Pesach correspond to the two aspects of Klal Yisrael’s relationship with Hashem. The entire nation has a common goal of fulfilling the will of Hashem. Nevertheless, each individual has his own way of achieving this goal, according to his nature and nurture.

We see this from the divergence of duties among the shevatim. Only with the combined efforts of each individual Jew can the nation as a whole reach the exalted goal of fulfilling Hashem’s will in its entirety.

The Torah states that the meat of each Korban Pesach mustn’t be removed from that house. Perhaps the Torah’s goal here is to ensure that we each follow our family’s hallowed mesorah in serving Hashem. The Seder night is a time for imparting to our offspring the fundamental elements of our faith. Therefore, it’s critically important that we do so in an insular family setting.

The Torah commands us four times to recite the Hagaddah this night, corresponding to the four sons described in the Hagaddah. We’re obligated to teach each family member in the most effective manner that will reach his heart.


A few years ago, circumstances had it that we spent Pesach at a college campus that had been turned into a Pesach getaway. The accommodations were abysmally sparse, but the bungalow colony atmosphere of so many frum families spending Yom Tov together was a rare experience. Leil Haseder I stepped out of our tiny cottage to get a breath of fresh air. The kids were washing for rachtzah and my husband was measuring matzah shiurim.

I stood for a few moments breathing in the cool night air, redolent with the scent of pine. Then I started tuning in to the orchestra of sounds surrounding me.

Our nation has two interdependent identifying features. First is our common basis: the rock-hard incontrovertible elements of our faith. Besides this, each individual, through perpetuating his family’s traditions, fills a unique niche in avodas Hashem. Both these features are critically intertwined. Neither can be maintained without the other.


In the cottage to my left, a Sephardi family was chanting the Haggadah in a musical lilt, the younger children’s voices harmonizing with the older. Diagonally across from me was a chassidish family. I could hear a child’s high-pitched voice asking a question in Yiddish and a soft voice responding.

The largest cottage was hosting a multigenerational American family, married children and grandchildren celebrating together with Zaidy and Bubby. Mixed voices, some raised in discussion, others in song, rang out in a hodgepodge of noise.

I took a deep breath, filled myself with the sounds, the smells, the life of it all. The background noises were a beautiful accompaniment as I opened the door to go home. (Originally featured in Family First, Issue 576)