The Maggid the section of the Haggadah for Passover wherein the actual tale of the Exodus is recounted — opens as follows: “This [matzah] is the bread of the poor that our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all those who are hungry come and eat with us….”

A number of things must be understood. Why do we use the expression “This1 is the bread … that our ancestors ate” when it is not the actual bread, but merely something similar? Additionally, this passage seems merely to serve as an invitation for anyone who is hungry to join in the Passover Seder. How does this relate to the tale of the Exodus?

Moreover, as this is the first passage in the Maggid , we understand that it contains a message that is crucial to the entire tale of the Exodus. What is this message?

Our Sages inform us that in every generation,2 and in fact every day,3 we are to see ourselves as if we are departing from Egypt.4 In keeping with this theme, the matzos we are eating, baked as they were before Passover, are actually the matzos “that were eaten in the land of Egypt.”

This explains why this passage begins the Maggid, for it informs us that, to as great an extent as possible, we are not only to recount the tale of the Exodus, but to actually relive the Exodus; we are the ones leaving Egypt.

But how is this message related to the “bread of the poor”? And how does this connect to the sentence that follows: “Let all those who are hungry come and eat with us….”?

As long as a person is aware of himself, he has yet to leave Egypt, or Mitzrayim , which in Hebrew means straits and limitations, and so it is impossible for him to truly relive the Exodus. After all, thousands of years have passed since the original event; how can he be expected to relive it in a different century and living under completely different conditions?

In order to truly relive the Exodus, a person must be able to transcend the bonds of time and space in which he finds himself. Only then will he be able to feel that he is actually leaving Egypt.

This is accomplished when a person realizes how truly insignificant he is; that he is indeed poor, and the food he is eating — that which is responsible for his very existence — is “poor man’s bread.” Eating “this very bread” enables him to become appropriately humble and thus relive the Exodus.

This is also the connection to the passage in which we invite total strangers to partake in our meal. As long as we think of ourselves and our needs first, it is difficult to share with others, since this means having less for ourselves. However, by acquiring the humility necessary for reliving the Exodus, one will also become able to share his meal.

The passage that starts “This is the bread…” concludes with: “This year we are here. Next year may we all be in Eretz Yisrael. This year we are still slaves. Next year may we all be free.”

What connection does the final section have with the sentences that preceded it? According to the above, the connection is clear:

Eretz Yisrael is “a land that is constantly under G‑d your L-rd’s scrutiny; the eyes of G‑d your L-rd are on it at all times.”5 As such, it is only by attaining the humility commensurate with eating “poor man’s bread” that we are able to acquire “Eretz Yisrael.”

For as long as man is an entity unto himself, G‑d will not reside within him, for “G‑d only resides within an entity that is nullified to Him.”6 Only when a person achieves a state of total self-abnegation — “poor man’s bread” — will he attain the ability to have G‑d reside within him at all times — the level of Eretz Yisrael.

The same is true regarding the statement: “Next year may we all be free.” As long as a person is confined within his own limitations, it is impossible for him to be free. By achieving total self-nullification — “poor man’s bread” — he rises above all limitations and becomes truly free.

Based on Likkutei Sichos , Vol. VII, pp. 259-263.