Archive for Pesach

Simply Thank You

Simply Thank You


We can learn a very interesting deep meaning of thank you from the seder night. There are different levels of appreciation. Ever wonder why prayer of Hallel is smack in the middle of the seder?

Lets examine one of our important prayers which is recited a number times daily. For all blessings in the Shmoneh Esrei we can have an agent. For ‘Heal Us’, for ‘Bless Us with a Good Year’, and so forth we can have a messenger — the Shliach Tzibbur-Chazzan can say the blessing for us. However, there is one thing that no else one can say for us. We must say it for ourselves. That one thing is “Thank You”. Hoda’ah has to come from ourselves. No one can be our agent to say ‘Thank You’.

 “Todah” (thanks) comes from the word “Hoda’ah”, meaning giving thanks. However, the word “Hoda’ah” also means to admit (as in the expression Hoda’as ba’al din k’meah edim dami).

Rabbi Yissachar Frand says that it is no coincidence that the word for thanking and the word for admitting are one and the same. In order for a person to give thanks, he has to be able to admit that he needed help. The first step in being grateful to someone for doing something for you is the admission that you needed help and that you are not all powerful. Therefore the Hebrew word for thanks and for admission are the same.

How do we know whether the word “Hoda’ah” means admission or thanks? Rabbi Yissachar Frand says that we need to look at the preposition that comes after the word. The word “Hoda’ah” — meaning admission — is always followed by the Hebrew preposition ‘”sheh…” (that). The word “Hoda’ah” — meaning thanks — is always followed by the Hebrew word “al …” (for).

In davening [prayers] we have a Blessing of Modim, called the Blessing of “Hoda’ah”. How does it read? “Modim anachnu lach sheh…” This indicates, that the first thing we have to do is not thank G-d, but admit to G-d that we are dependent on Him. Once we come to that understanding, then we can come to the end of the blessing where we say “Nodeh lecha… …al…” — We thank You for… Birkas HaHoda’ah is thus a two-stage blessing. It is a Hoda’ah of admission at the beginning which climaxes with a Hoda’ah of thanking at the end.

When the words of thanks finish, though, and we want to appreciate more, our thanks automatically is elevated to song. Singing is the language of the heart. For this reason we instill Hallel smack in the middle of the Seder. Hallel is a lofty level of appreciation and is often sung on holidays. When it comes to singing, if its sincere from the heart, the two definitions of hoda’ah is automatically combined.

We thank G-d for freedom; we thank him for taking us out of Egypt and making us his ambassadors. Living in a country that advocates freedom we sometimes take it for granted that we are free. Sometimes we have to appreciate that which we have. The seder night is tailored for us to say thank you in a special way


Question: Why do we hide the second piece of Matzah that we break? If the goal of our breaking the Matzah was merely to pique the curiosity of the children etc., wouldn’t breaking the Matzah and leaving both pieces untouched on the table until later be enough of a diversion from our normal course to accomplish the same goal?

Answer: The Vilna Gaon (a.k.a. the G”ra), gives a reason why we hide the piece of Matzo that will be used for the Afikoman and remove it from the table until after the meal. He says that the reason is very similar to the one given for why we cover the Challah when we say Kiddush, that being to prevent the “embarasment” of the Challah which is being passed over in favor of the wine. {Normally, bread is considered the most distinguished food, and the blessing on it comes before anything else. On Shabbat, we need to make Kiddush over wine before we begin the meal. Therefore, we cover the Challah bread, so it will not be “ashamed” that a blessing is being made on another food before it.} Similarly, when we later make the Brachot on different pieces of Matzah, we cover and remove the Afikoman from the table, to prevent it from embarrassment as it is being looked over, as it is not eaten until after the meal.