For the week ending 24 March 2018 / 8 Nisan 5778

Minimum Entropy

by Rabbi Nota Schiller
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“Seder” means order. Why then is the Pesach ritual meal with the Haggadah called “Seder”?

Shakespeare said that studying nature, the honeybees in particular, taught people about order. E. M. Foster disagreed. He felt that only a manmade work of art had internal order. In the middle of the US Civil War, Henry Martyn Robert, reacting to a disorderly meeting, sat down to compose “Robert’s Rules of (Parliamentary) Order.”

Pesach is a special time to celebrate our national liberation and our personal liberation. The austerity of the unleavened bread of this Festival signifies discipline and focus. This leads one to understand that discipline and focus, i.e. order, help us achieve and appreciate our freedoms. How?

Life is a mixture of times of order and times of chaos. But we are potentially able to give order to the chaos. Pesach represents a time for us to provide order to the chaos of energies. It is a time to give them focus, purpose and definition. After all, what is liberation other than being freed from the tyranny of immediate wants and desires? We are able to succeed in this freedom by choosing according to objective criteria. For thousands of years we have a specific name for these objective criteria: “Halacha”.

So Shakespeare and Foster were both correct. There is order and there is chaos. The Halachic imperative is to order that which is potentially chaotic. And, in a sense, as Henry Martyn Roberts did, we are always in the middle of a “Civil War,” and that is the time to make “Seder”, to make order. To celebrate freedom.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy Pesach!

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