Rabbi Nachman in the Talmud once asked his servant, “What should a servant do if his master not only frees him, but rewards him with great wealth?” The servant replied, “He should thank him and praise him.” Rabbi Nachman thought for a moment and said, “You have exempted us from singing the Mah Nishtana, the Four Questions.”
The Ephod Bad, the 19th century Lithuanian commentary on the Haggadah, writes that the purpose of the Mah Nishtana is to encourage us to praise and give thanksgiving to God for all the acts of goodness. Passover out of all the festivals is the one with a multitude of reminders of our story and the miracles along the way; matzah, maror, reclining at the table, and the signing of Dayeinu are only a few. When we sing the Mah Nishtana, we are not only asking the questions, but we are encouraging the continuation of our story from the Exodus to today. The Seder is the most important Jewish lecture of the year, a class in how we treasure the past.
This Shabbat at Sinai Temple, we will tell the story of our leader and our Rabbi for the last 50 years, Rabbi Zvi Dershowitz. A man who as the Kotzker Rebbe would say, did not only read the Torah, but lived his life as Torah; a Rabbi who brought people into Judaism, a Rabbi who welcomed Jews from everywhere into the Sinai Temple family, a Rabbi who could bring a piece of Torah to the events happening in the world each day, and a Rabbi who served our community for five decades.
Tomorrow, there will be no need for the Haggadah as a liturgical source. Rather, we invite all those who were blessed by Rabbi Dershowitz to join us in the Ziegler Sanctuary: B’nai mitzvah, conversions, weddings, funerals, shivas, and other lifecycle moments. Mah Nishtana….this Shabbat will be different than all other Shabbats.
Yhi zichro Baruch, may the life of Rabbi Zvi Dershowitz be a blessing for all time.