Friday, April 19, 2019

Pour Out Your Wrath

Image from Chabad
As we proceed in the Pesach Seder recounting our exodus from Egypt, we talk about what our ancestors suffered and how we were freed from bondage. We recount all the wonders and miracles God provided for us. However once we recite the Bichas Hamazon (Barech) - just before we begin the Hallel portion of the Seder - we encounter the somewhat jarring passage of Shefoch Chamascha. Which asks God to pour out his wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge Him. 

We have somehow transitioned from a narrative of redemption to one of expressing anger at the nations! What is the point of this? Are we supposed to seek vengeance on the non Jewish nations of the world? Why make this request at all? We are a nation of Chesed whose ways are the pleasant ways of the Torah. 

This request is not an indiscriminate one against all non Jewish nations. It is only against the nations that do not recognize God. Those are evil nations whose morals and values are by definition not Godly and deserve God's anger. But that still leaves the question of why do it at all?

I would answer that it is still in harmony with the theme of the evening. Which is about what an ungodly nation has done to us because of its warped sense of justice and immorality. God poured out His wrath against the evil empire of Egypt. Along those lines we ask God to do the same to all evil empires. 

In his Haggadah, The Royal Table, Rabbi Norman Lamm asks the same question. Why don't we just continue with theme of redemption? His answer is based on human psychology. 

Those who give verbal expression to their enmity are least likely to act upon it. Those that acknowledge 'Kel Nekamos' (God of vengeance) (Tehilim - 94:1) as we do every Wednesday morning are least likely to appoint themselves God's official executioners. Keeping the poison of vengeance  inside you can destroy a person. Even if it is a righteous vengeance based on years of humiliation and indignities that we as a people have had to endure over the centuries from all the evil empires wherein our people have lived. The pressure for vengeance builds up on the inside and needs a release. The author of the Haggadah recognizes that and gives it to us. Thus asking God to apply Godly vengeance to all such nations is the best release of all, obviating our need to do it ourselves.

At this time, I wish all of my readers - and all of Klal Yisroel a Chag Kosher Ve-Sameach.

(As has been my custom every Erev Pesach, I offer links to past Divrei Torah which can be easily printed and if you wish - repeated at the seder.)