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by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

At the Seder, following Kiddush, the vegetable dipped in salt water and the breaking of the middle Matzah we suddenly make an announcement: "All those that are hungry should come and eat, all those that are in need should join our Seder".
This sounds like a bizarre insincere expression of hospitality. We are well into the Seder, in our comfort of our own homes (with soundproof walls) and suddenly we extend this loving and kind invitation. If we really meant it surely shouldn't we send out an email before Yom tov or at least announce it in Shul on the first night of Pesach?

The Seder night is not just to remember an event that took place over 3300 years ago. It is an opportunity for us to experience our own personal freedom, growth and Exodus from our own internal prison.

Hospitality and kindness is sometimes exclusive and conditional. I might be ready to invite many guests but only if I enjoy their company. I will be friendly and kind to anyone provided they have never hurt or insulted me. I will never include my cousin in the Seder because she/he has never included me in theirs - and the list goes on.
While often these sentiments have legitimacy, they nevertheless portray an individual who is still trapped in his/her own mindset and bias perspectives. When we operate within the walls of our own prison, looking at the world from our own paradigm we limit our own growth and the scope of our relationships. It is difficult for us to see a different point of view or to judge others favourably. When we are stuck in our own world it becomes almost impossible to tolerate those that we dislike.
The Seder night invitation is not a practical invitation that could be implemented on the spot. It is more of a pledge to free ourselves from our own prison. It is a commitment to open up our minds, hearts and even homes to ALL those that are in need including those who we may dislike or clash with.

But that declaration cannot be made before the Seder when we are still in our personal "Egypt". Only once we engage in the Seder experience and begin to taste the Pesach freedom can we begin to change and make this pledge with a degree of sincerity.

When we sit down to the Seder let us try and make it as meaningful as possible and experience our own growth by taking the first step beyond our comfort zone.

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