1. We don’t Want to Wait. In the Haggadah we read, “This year we are here…; next year we will be free men.”

“Next year” doesn’t mean that we have to wait until erev Pesach next year. It can happen tomorrow, and that way we will be free men next year.

2. To be Truthful, be Artless. The later Kabbalists write that the Afikoman should be hidden between two cushions. In the Holy Tongue, the word for cushion is כר, and twice the numerical value of that word equals the numerical value of תם, which suggests artlessness. When one adds an alef, the initial letter of Afikoman, the resultant word is אמת, which means truth.1 Since the letter alef consists of three strokes, it used to be customary to break the Afikoman into three pieces. And on this practice my father commented that if one does it artlessly, like the tam, the Simple Son, doing so is truthful.2

In general terms, each of the letters comprises three parts excluding the tagin, the tiny “crowns” atop certain letters. The letter yud has three parts, including the tagin, and the letter alef is made of two letters yud plus a connecting line.

3. A Cheerful Year. The year 5654 (1894) was a difficult year, even though many new maamarim of Chassidus were delivered that year. The year 5655 (1895), by contrast, even though it had few new maamarim, was a cheerful year.

4. His Lips Murmur. The Haggadah recounts that “it is told of R. Eliezer….”

The Sages tell us that when a teaching is cited in the name of the scholar who first mouthed it, “his lips murmur in the grave.”3 Regardless of whether such scholars are now in the Lower Garden of Eden or the Higher Garden of Eden or in various Heavenly palaces and chambers, their lips still murmur. We have shaken them up, so to speak. We should visualize how they hear the words that are being cited here below.

5. Raise your Eyes on High. We read further: “…until their disciples came and said, ‘Our masters! The time has come for the morning’s Reading of Shema!’ ”

In the Holy Tongue, that last word, שמע, is made up of the initials of the phrase, שאו מרום עיניכם – “Raise your eyes on high!”4

There is a Shema in the evening and a Shema in the morning. [No record of a presumed continuation is extant.]

6. What is he Doing Here?The Haggadah says: “As to the wicked son, what does he say? …If he were there, he would not have been redeemed.”

How does a rasha appear here? Didn’t all the wicked people vanish during the three days of darkness? [No record of a presumed continuation is extant.]

7. Raw Power. We later read: “To Eisav I gave Mount Se’ir, to inherit it.”

[On a mystical level,] this can be interpreted to mean that Mount Se’ir [i.e., in allusion to Yaakov, as explained below] was to inherit Eisav.

In the Chumash, Yaakov tells Eisav, “I shall proceed at my own slow pace…, until I reach my master, [Eisav,] at Se’ir.”5 In the language of the Kabbalah, that means that ultimately, Yaakov6 is destined to inherit the raw spiritual power of the “lights” of the World of Tohu.7 This is hinted at in the prophetic promise that “deliverers will ascend [to Mount Zion] to judge the mountain of Eisav.”8 And in preparation for that, “Yaakov and his sons went down to Egypt.”9

8. Open House. The Seder table of my grandfather, the Rebbe Maharash, was always set with all the silver and gold vessels in the house, yet after Shfoch chamas’cha, [when the door is opened for Eliyahu HaNavi,] the door was not closed for the night. Once it was closed, but not locked.

And by the way: There were two wagon drivers in the village of Lubavitch, Shaul and Shlomo, both of whom were burglars. They used to say that on Pesach they did not steal (G‑d forbid!), just as they never stole on Shabbos or Yom-Tov. All they did was to come along and look around inside so that they would know what work was awaiting them for Chol HaMoed….

9. Recollections. A chassid by the name of R. Nachman Mariasin used to visit my grandfather, the Rebbe Maharash, for Pesach. My father often asked him what he remembered of his father, the Rebbe Maharash, and on one occasion R. Nachman had an episode to relate.

10. An Unearned Gift. A chassid called R. Aizik of Vitebsk once said that the [Alter] Rebbe had granted him the ability to see. My grandfather asked him whether he had toiled to earn that ability by his own avodah, and he answered that it had been given to him as a gift initiated from above.

11. From Inspiration to Application. The revelations of Pesach proceed from above, in a downward direction. There is a revelation in the neshamah, and may the One on High10 grant that it should continue to descend – into the nefesh, and ultimately find expression in actual practice.

[12. Customs. Before Vehi she’amdah is said, it is the Rebbe’s custom to cover the matzah and only then to raise the goblet (i.e., not in the reverse order that appears in the Haggadah).

[While the passage beginning Maror zeh is said, the Rebbe places his holy hand on the maror until the word u’ge’alam has been said.11

[When saying the passage beginning Lefichach, the Rebbe holds the goblet in hand until Halleluyah, when he stands it on the table. He then takes it up again while saying the berachah, Asher ge’alanu.509

[On both nights this year, the Rebbe filled the goblet for Eliyahu before the Grace after Meals.12

[Having concluded the reading of the Haggadah, the Rebbe said, Leshanah habaah biYerushalayim (“Next year inJerusalem!”) and poured the wine from the goblet for Eliyahu back into the bottle, while those present sang the Alter Rebbe’s traditional melody to the verse, Keili Atah….]