I felt the following thought is particularly pertinent this year when so many of us are confined to some degree of isolation and will not be part of the larger seder we are used to – some even conducting the seder in solitude. Please continue to daven for all of the cholim. Yom Tov hi miliz’ok, urfuah kerovah lavo.
In the beginning of Maggid, we recite "Avadim hayinu." In this paragraph, we say that if not for the fact that HaKadosh Baruch Hu had taken us out of Mitzrayim, we would still be beholden to Paroah in Mitzrayim. Therefore, even if we are all wise, understanding knowers of the Torah, we have a mitzvah to tell over the story of yetzias Mitzrayim. To say that there are two questions to be asked on this paragraph would surely not be the whole truth. However, there are two questions on which I wish to focus. First, why would we have thought that wise sages would be exempt from the mitzvah? Second, how does the haggadah in fact justify this requirement?
As an introduction, I would like to quote a piece from R' Chaim Kanievsky on Chanukah, found in Ta'ama D'kra. He asks why there is no mention of the miracle of the oil in the text of "Al HaNisim." He answers that the theme of Al HaNisim is hoda'ah, giving thanks. When it comes to giving thanks, the obligation only exists regarding an event by which one is directly affected. For a miracle that only truly benefited those at the time and has no effect on us now, there is no obligation of hoda'ah. We find that Sukkos is built around the miracle of HaShem's protecting us. However, since this miracle does not affect us today, we don't find any specific requirements of hoda'ah on Sukkos. So, too, the miracle of the oil has no direct effect on us today. On the other hand, had B'nei Yisrael been destroyed in the war, we would not be around today. Therefore, we must give thanks for the winning of the war.
Perhaps, what the paragraph of "Avadim Hayinu" is teaching us is that we might have thought that the mitzvah of sipur yetzias Mitzrayim is strictly an educational one, that there is an obligation for the wise to teach those who do not know as the main source of this mitzvah is "vehigadta levincha," a requirement for the father to teach the son. Had this been so, if we were all wise sages, there would be no need to do this mitzvah for no one needs to be educated. However, this is not so. Attached to the mitzvah of sipur yetzias Mitzrayim is the very pertinent theme of hoda'ah. We are not merely telling a story. We are expressing thanks and appreciation to HaShem for yetzias Mitzrayim, whether we've learned about it previously or not. The haggadah, therefore, starts by illustrating how the miracle affects us today, that if not for yetzias Mitzrayim, we would still be beholden to Paroah in Mitzrayim. Because of this, there is an obligation to thank HaShem and therefore all of us are commanded to tell the story of yetzias Mitzrayim.