Seder foods means, not ends

Seder foods means, not ends

Shammai Engelmayer draws a caricature of a seder that revolves around measuring out (grossly inflated) minimum quantities of matzah, marror, and wine (Taking the measure of the Pesach seder,” February 22).

The over-the-top punctiliousness he describes – which is clearly a straw-man – is halachically flawed and has no basis in tradition. Anyone who has read the Haggadah knows that the symbolic foods of the seder are not ends in themselves, but are meant to evoke the Exodus experience. Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik taught that to properly fulfill the obligation of eating matzah and marror, one must be mindful of the seder’s narrative of freedom; merely ingesting the food is insufficient.

Had it also provided a positive model of seder observance, Rabbi Engelmayer’s message would have been much more effective.