Skeletons in the Closet

April 06th 2017

By Benjamin Harris


This part of the Haggadah similarly marks our ascent from the ignominy of idol worship to the pinnacle of human attainment, servants of the true God. This is in accordance with the Talmud which dictates that the evening begins with our shame and ends with our praise. But why would the Haggadah want us to revisit shame on the night which celebrates our freedom?

This recollection of where we came from to whom we became is crucial to the mitzvah of the Seder night and teaches us an invaluable ethical lesson. Any celebration of good fortune or great personal achievement requires of us to recall our less enviable previous status. It is this which enables us to place our rejoicing into perspective ensuring that we don’t get carried away with our success. 

Throughout life we accumulate a timeline of events which have happened to us. Some are more memorable than others, some we try to forget, but all of these contribute towards whom we have become.

When things are going well in life it is all too easy to get carried away and forget what once was. The human disinclination to recall hard times is one of our self protection mechanisms which helps to preserve our self confidence. 

However, tonight is about remembering our national journey and the process which led us to this moment in time whereby we sit as a family and recall our survival and success against all the odds. Our dedication to becoming a monotheistic nation despite our ancestor’s roots being steeped in polytheism and idolatry. 

If there is one thing which the Haggadah can teach us it would be the following. That no matter who you are, where you come from, your family background and all your previous actions and life moments, there is always hope to turn it around and become something great. It is sometimes from our deepest shame that our greatest praises can emerge.