The Pesach Haggadah.

Following is a dvar Torah told over to me by one of the sons-in-law of the Rav last Pesach 
when he was a guest in my house. I made him write it down afterwards, for your enjoyment!

   “What does the wicked son say: ‘What is this service to you?’ (Exodus 12:26) ‘To you’ and not, ‘to me.’ And because he has separated himself from the rest of the community he is considered a heretic. As for you, ‘blunt his teeth’ (rebuke him plainly) and say to him: ‘Because of this did G-d act on my behalf during my release from Egypt.’ (Exodus 13:8) ‘On my behalf’, not ‘his’ behalf. Had the wicked son been there at the time of the Exodus, he would not have been redeemed.”
   The wicked son turns to his fathers and teachers, the tzaddikim of the generation, and says to them: “What is this service to you?” Meaning, of what concern is it to you whether and how I serve G-d? I know all by myself what I need to do and how I am meant to serve G-d. I have no need of your advice and guidance, or your influence.
   “To you, and not to me.” He has no real objection to the fact of serving G-d; all his objections focus on this matter of, “to you.” He has no complaint regarding this service “to him”—he is in agreement that he himself needs to serve G-d.
   However, “….because he has separated himself from the rest of the community”—in that he has separated himself from the tzaddikim of the generation who are the collective soul of the Jewish people—“he is considered a heretic.” This point is explained in Likutei Moharan I:123: “The fundamental principle on which everything depends is that one bind himself to the tzaddik of the generation and accept his words about any matter at all, whether great or small, and not to veer from the tzaddik’s words to the right or to the left.”
   It is the way of such a person to say that he is indeed connected to G-d and to the tzaddikim of prior generations, and that there is no need for him to bind himself to the tzaddikim of this present generation. He claims that he has enough sense and wisdom to know and understand on his own all that he needs to do in accordance with the words of tzaddikim who lived before. And, quite the contrary, he himself has greater wisdom and better understanding of his own duties than the tzaddikim living in this generation. He has no need of them in order to attain closeness to G-d and to serve Him.
   So the Sages come along and reveal to such a person that just as he thinks this way in this generation, so too would he have thought during the time of the Exodus. He wouldn’t have been willing to set aside his own intellectual conceptions to follow after Moshe Rabbeinu. And he would have been among those wicked people who perished during the plague of darkness because they were unwilling to leave Egypt. (See the commentary of Rashi on Exodus 10:22)
   This is the meaning behind the phrase, “As for you, blunt his teeth…” The numerical value of the word “tooth” is the same as the word “mind” (sechel). This means that one must explain to such a person that the difficulty he has in surrendering intellectual authority to the tzaddikim of the generation has nothing to do with the unworthiness of the tzaddik, G-d forbid, but rather stems from his overwhelming conceit. Such arrogance would even have prevented him from subjugating his mind to a tzaddik as great as Moshe Rabbeinu. “Had he been there at the time of the Exodus, he would not have been redeemed.”
   This point could be made as a play on words—the word for “wicked one” (rasha) is a three-letter acronym for the words, “Ribbono Shel Olam” (Master of the universe). Meaning, the person who claims that he can serve G-d, the Master of the universe, on his own, and has no need of the intervention of the tzaddik of the generation, is considered wicked.
   Similarly, the son of the Noam Elimelech writes in his Iggeres HaKodesh at the end of that work: “It is written in the Gemara—by the time the ‘sun’ [leadership] of Eli had set, the ‘sun’ of Shemuel had already risen. By the time the ‘sun’ of Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi had set…” For there is no generation left bereft of its tzaddikim. There are tzaddikim in every single generation, the only problem is that most people have no faith in them. Even when the rare individual who possesses a holy soul that hasn’t been sullied with sin, a believer, tries to convince those disbelievers by using examples from the tzaddikim of earlier times, they rebuff his efforts in the following way. “We do indeed believe that the sages who lived long ago had this lofty level of Divine inspiration. But such a thing is impossible in our own time.” This is the way people justify themselves in every generation, as is well known about Shaul the king.
   My beloved brother, rest assured that even the holy Ariza”l had his detractors. This is the meaning of the verse, “Generation to generation will praise Your works.” (Tehillim 145:4) Meaning, the people of a later generation do indeed admit that previous generations attained high spiritual levels. “They will praise Your works”—they praise and offer thanks for the great works and high levels that G-d grants to the tzaddikim—but not in their own generation. This is the meaning of the Gemara: “Tzaddikim are greater after their deaths than in their lifetimes.” During their lifetimes people argued with them, but after their deaths everyone admits how great they were and praise the high levels they attained.
   We find this idea expressed in Likutei Halachos as well (Orach Chayim II, Hilchos Birchas HaRei’ach 4, end of subsection 34): “This is the main way in which the evil inclination is intensified—it gains strength from generation to generation to obscure the true tzaddik of that particular era. As we ourselves see with our own eyes, that the main conflict [among Jews] is about the tzaddik of that particular time. Afterward, in the passage of time, people eventually come to recognize that tzaddik and say that he certainly was righteous. But then they continue to oppose the tzaddik of the following generation [that is, their own]. During the time of the Ariza”l, there was tremendous opposition against him, for people did not want to accept that such a uniquely gifted individual, with true Divine inspiration, could exist in their own time. Eventually, after several generations, the Ariza”l became accepted by all—everyone admits that he was wondrously unique and Divinely gifted. However, they continued to oppose the tzaddikim who came afterward. This extended down to nearly our own time, when the Baal Shem Tov appeared; he bore such an amazing heavenly light, and he suffered from terrible opposition. This was so, despite the fact that by the time of the Baal Shem Tov, the majority of his opponents accepted the Ariza”l. This is true of every generation and has already been discussed in other works (see the end of the work Noam Elimelech for more on the subject). Why is this the case, though? Because the main means of clarifying the faculty of the imagination, which is itself the clarification of faith, is through the true tzaddik in each and every generation—for the only judge [leader] available to you is the one who exists in your own time. Faith must be clarified every day anew, in accordance with the renewal of creation as a whole. This clarification is only accomplished by the tzaddik particular to that generation. For this reason, the evil impulse [the Soton] dedicates himself completely to this task of obscuring the tzaddik and instigating conflict and opposition to him, so that people are discouraged from drawing closer to the true tzaddik, G-d forbid. And to what end? Because the essence of faith, which is the essence of the sanctity of the Jewish people, depends completely on this tzaddik.” 

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Home Lessons given by  the Rav HaRav Levi Itzchak Bender, zt"l.