Shortly after the Ma Nishtana, the Passover Haggadah quotes a teaching attributed to Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah. It states why we are required to remember the Exodus, once during the day and again at night. Clearly, a feature of the seder is to share the Exodus story, not just remember it. Rather, we must articulate the story verbally and share it with our children and guests. This is highlighted in our Parsha, ‘And you shall tell your child…’ (Exodus 13:8).
When exploring the many biblical references to Moses’ speech disorder, the mystical teachings of the Zohar compare three stages of redemption to three levels in speech development. The first, in which the Jews are trapped in the depth of hopeless slavery, is symbolised by silence. When Moses appears with a message of freedom, sound replaces silence. Finally, when redemption is complete, sounds shape words. Moses’ personal battle with speech, in which he struggles to clearly communicate, is an expression of a national yearning to materialise hope into freedom.
The Halachic requirement to articulate the Exodus story on Passover eve captures the tragedy of slavery and the joy of freedom. A slave has no identity, therefore no voice. A free person has an identity, language and words.
On Passover evening, our rituals are symbols of freedom. Articulating our story verbally is another expression of our freedom.