A Night of Mitzvos
Rabbi Yitzchak Schwartz
A favorite part of the Seder night is the asking of the four questions Ma Nishtana. The Vilna Gaon explains the basis for these questions is that no other mitzvah in the Torah must be fulfilled only at night. All other torah mitzvos are fulfilled in the day time or the daytime in addition to the night time. But there are no other mitzvos that can be fulfilled only at night. Therefore the question relates to the difference of the Seder night as being unique in being designated for mitzvos.
Rav Tzadok HaCohen ask a more basic question about the Ma Nishtana. Why is it that the mitzvos of the Seder are preformed only after asking the questions about why we observe them. Before fulfilling the mitzvah of lulav and esrog, or dwelling in the Succah we are not required to ask any questions. Judaism certainly encourages asking questions but with the exception of the night of the Seder, never is the fulfillment of a mitzvah predicated upon asking questions about it.
Rav Tzadok explains that the mitzvos of the Seder night are unique by virtue of the fact that they came before the giving of the Torah. When the Jewish people received the Torah they proclaimed na'aseh v'nishma we will fulfill the mitzvos without asking any questions! This proclamation is considered a great merit for the Jewish people until this day. Those two words na'asei v'nishma are testimony to the fact that every Jew, deep in his heart want to do the will of Hashem. It was, and still is an expression of the love between us and our Creator. That level of devekus and unquestioning loyalty could come about only after we experienced the wonders of Yezitas Mitzraim when Hashem redeemed us for no other reason than the fact that He loved us and was loyal and faithful to the promises that He made our forefathers.
The mitzvos of the Seder night recall for us the highest level of chesed. Hashem preformed miracles and for us without us deserving it and before we were prepared spiritually for the great gifts that the mitzvos of the Torah bring us. In fact, having adopted so much of prevailing culture and religion, they were not too different from their Egyptian slave masters. Despite all of this Hashem showered us with his kindness and miracles and gave us mitzvos while we were still in the “nighttime of spiritual welfare”. We were not on a level to unquestionably accept the mitzvos.
On the night, by asking the four questions, and acknowledging that we were not spiritually worthy of redemption, we recall that Hashem's kindness is boundless and extends beyond human ability to understand.