Telling The Story
One might think that the Haggadah should be recited on the first day of the month of Nisan, but the Torah says: “You shall tell your son on that day” [the first day of Passover]. One might think that the phrase on that day means that the story of the Exodus should be recited in the daytime; therefore, the Torah says: “This is on account of what Adonai did for me.” The word this refers to the time when this matzah and this maror are placed before you--on Passover night when you are obliged to eat them. At first our forefathers worshiped idols, but now the Omnipresent has brought us near to His service, as it is written: “Joshua said to all the people: so says Adonai God of Israel--your fathers have always lived beyond the Euphrates River, Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor; they worshipped other gods. I took your father Abraham from the other side of the river and led him through all the land of Canaan. I multiplied his family and gave him Isaac. To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau; to Esau I gave Mount Seir to inherit, however Jacob and his children went down to Egypt.” Blessed be He who keeps His promise to Israel; blessed be He. The Holy One, blessed be he, predetermined the time for our final deliverance in order to fulfill what He had pledged to our father Abraham in a covenant, as it is written: “He said to Abram, Your descendants will surely sojourn in a land that is not their own, and they will be enslaved and afflicted for four hundred years; however, I will punish the nation that enslaved them, and afterwards they shall leave with great wealth.” Raise the wine cup and say: This promise has sustained our fathers and us. For not only one enemy has risen against us to annihilate us, but in every generation men rise against us. But the Holy One, Blessed be He, saves us from their hand. The wine cup is put down. Learn what Laban the Syrian tried to do to our father Jacob. While Pharaoh decreed only against the newborn males, Laban tried to uproot all of Israel, as it is written: “The Aramaean sought to destroy my father, however, he went down to Egypt and sojourned there few in number and there he became a great, mighty, and numerous nation.” He went down to Egypt, compelled by divine decree. He sojourned there implies that he did not come down to settle in Egypt but only to live there temporarily, as it is written: “They (the sons of Jacob) said to Pharaoh: ‘We have come to sojourn in this land because there is no pasture for your servants’ flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. For now, though, let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen.’ “ Few in number, as it is written: “With seventy souls your ancestors went down to Egypt, and now Adonai your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky.” There he became a nation means that they became a distinct people in Egypt.
Great, mighty, as it is written. “The children of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and became mighty, and the land was full of them.” And numerous, as it is written: “I made you as populous as the plants of the field; you grew up and wore choice adornments; your breasts were firm and your hair grew long; yet, you were bare and naked.” “The Egyptians suspected us of evil and afflicted us; they imposed hard labor upon us.” The Egyptians suspected us of evil, as it is written: “Let us deal with them wisely lest they multiply, and, if we happen to be at war, they may join our enemies and fight against us and then leave the country.” And afflicted us, as it is written: “They set taskmasters over them in order to oppress them with their burdens; the people of Israel built Pithom and Raamses as storecities for Pharaoh.” They imposed hard labor upon us, as it is written: “They imposed back-breaking labor upon the people of Israel.” “We cried to Adonai, the God of our fathers; Adonai heard our cry and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression.” We cried to Adonai, the God of our fathers, as it is written: “It happened in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died; the children of Israel sighed because of their labor and cried; their cry of servitude reached God.” Adonai heard our cry, as it is written: “God heard their groaning; God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.” And saw our affliction, that is, the conjugal separation of husband and wife, as it is written: “God saw the children of Israel and God knew.” Our toil refers to the drowning of the sons, as it is written: “Every son that is born you shall cast into the river, but you shall let every daughter live” Our oppression means the pressure used upon them, as it is written: “I have also seen how the Egyptians are oppressing them.” “Adonai brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and outstretched arm, with great awe, miraculous signs and wonders.” Adonai brought us out of Egypt not by an angel, not by a seraph, not by a messenger, but by the Holy One, blessed be He, Himself, as it is written: “I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night; I will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt from man unto beast; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments; I am Adonai.” I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, myself and not an angel; I will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, myself and not a seraph; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments, myself and not a messenger; I am Adonai, I and none other. Mighty hand refers to the disease among the cattle, as it is written: “Behold the hand of Adonai strikes your cattle which are in the field, the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the herds, and the flocks--a very severe pestilence.” Outstretched arm means the sword, as it is written: “His drawn sword in his hand, outstretched over Jerusalem.” Great awe alludes to the divine revelation, as it is written: “Has God ever attempted to take unto Himself, a nation from the midst of another nation by trials, miraculous signs and wonders, by war and with a mighty hand and outstretched arm and by awesome revelations, just as you saw Adonai your God do for you in Egypt, before your eyes?” Miraculous signs refers to the miracles performed with the staff [of Moses, but the Hebrew does not mention the name of Moses here], as it is written: “Take this staff in your hand, that you may perform the miraculous signs with it.” Wonders alludes to the plague of blood, as it is written: “I will show wonders in the sky and on the earth.”