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Why Is This Night Different From all Other Nights?

The Mitzva of Sippur and Zechira

Adapted from a shiur by Rav Ari Stauber on Parshas Bo

(והגדת לבנך ביום ההוא לאמור בעבור זה עשה לי בצאתי ממצרים (שמות יג:ח


According to Ben Zoma (Berachos 12b), the mitzvah of Zechiras Yetzias Mitzrayim applies daily, both by day and by night.

Why do we need a special mitzvah of Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim the night of Pesach?

The Minchas Chinuch suggests three answers, accepting the third:

  • Zechira can be fulfilled through thinking, while Sippur must be verbal. But he rejects this because some poskim (e.g., Shaagas Aryeh) say that even for Zechira, one must speak.
  • Zechira is mentioning briefly, while Sippur requires elaboration. But he cites the Pri Chadash that even reciting Kiddush fulfills the mitzvah of Sippur.
  • Sippur requires telling it to another. But if no one else is present, the mitzvah is equivalent to Zechira.

The Minchas Chinuch apparently holds that the mitzvah of Zechira and Sippur have the same basis, but differ technically on some details.

Rav Chaim Soloveitchik holds that Sippur is distinct, with three nafka minos:

It must be: Derech Sheeilah Uteshuva (question and answer), even if no one else is there, which makes it a story; Hishtalshelus Devarim (relating a chain of events), including Lavan, Yaakov, and the miracles in Egypt; explaining the reasons for the mitzvos at the Seder.  

What is the reason for these differences?

  • Zechira –to internalize the lessons and apply them to our lives: Hashem controls nature, He can perform miracles, and we are dependent upon him (see Ramban, end of Bo). This is accomplished by fulfilling twice daily.
  • Sippur – We transmit this lesson to future generations (as in the context of vehigadeta) and inspire them by relating the story and explanation.
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