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by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

One of the highlights of the Seder is the "Ma Nishtana", the four questions asked by the children at the Seder. This is central to the Seder as the Talmud tells us that the mitzvah of telling the story of the exodus from Egypt must be fulfilled in response to a question. This is so important that Jewish law states that if someone conducts a Seder with no children or even by themselves the questions still need to be asked.  Why is asking questions such an important part of the Seder experience?
The essence of the Pesach festival is freedom. True freedom means to liberate ourselves from our personal internal prison. It means not to be trapped in our usual personality or egocentricity. Freedom means that we can grow and extend ourselves way beyond our comfort zone. It is a life where values and spirituality dictate and determine our behaviour, not our narrow character disposition.  Our personal exodus allows us at all times to take a leap in the journey of spiritual growth.

The very first step to personal freedom is the acknowledgment that we are limited and imperfect.  Growth means that we are ready to seek and to explore something that is beyond ourselves, to investigate other perspectives and to absorb teachings that are new and fresh.

This is the depth behind asking questions - the Mah Nishtana. Asking a sincere question is an acknowledgment that we don't have the answers. It is the humility to express our commitment to learn something different and to absorb a new idea. This is why the basis of the Seder experience is to ask questions. Once we yearn to seek, explore, investigate and learn, only then can we tell the story and experience exodus.

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