Seder night on Pesach there are many who have the custom to leave their doors unlocked. This is based on a halacha brought in the Rema: “All the laws that apply to the first night should also be followed on the second night. And there is a custom to only read the first paragraph of Shema on one’s bed before going to sleep, but not the other paragraphs which one is accustomed to do on all other nights, for protection, since this night is a night of protection from dangers” (Mishna Berura 481:2). This halacha is based on a pasuk in this week’s Torah portion of Bo: “It is a night of anticipation for Hashem, to take them out of the land of Egypt; this night is Hashem’s, guarding all the children of Israel throughout their generations” (Shemos 12:42).
The Rashbam, who is known to explain the pesukim in its simplicity, says: “’It is a night of anticipation for Hashem’ from the days of their forefathers The Holy One Blessed Be He was yearning for this night to take the Children of Israel out of Egypt just as he promised them. And for the Jews it is a night of anticipation for all generations, for they yearn for this night to celebrate the holiday of Pesach with all its laws. The word שִׁמֻּרִ֛ים means waiting (or anticipating) just as it says by [Yaakov about Yosef’s dream] ‘but his father awaited the matter’ (Breishis 37:11).”(Click here for Hebrew text.)
According to the Rashbam, both times when the pasuk uses the term שִׁמֻּרִ֛ים are referring to anticipation (or yearning), by Hashem; anticipating the Jewish people’s redemption and the Jewish people anticipating or yearning for the Holiday of Pesach every year throughout the generations. But there seems to be a stark difference, which challenges what seems to be expected of us each year, between our yearning and anticipation of Hashem’s yearning, of redeeming us from Egypt, or even to Yaakov’s yearning and anticipation to see what would be of Yosef’s dreams. For Hashem was yearning for the day to come when, in natural time, His children would be redeemed and saved from the nasty exile and slavery destined for them in order to receive Hashem’s gift of the Torah, transforming them into a nation, the Light unto all the other nations. This is something obviously worth anticipating, and it is in anticipation of what will happen in the future, which has not yet happened. Certainly by Yaakov Avinu, who did not know the future and what would become of Yosef’s dreams; it definitely warrants yearning and anticipation, an excitement which he probably could not wait to see play out! But us Jews go through the same each Pesach, with the same laws every year, year in and year out. We were already redeemed, the excitement already happened, it is a thing of the past. How can we be expected to yearn and anticipate each and every year, it is the same thing that has happened every year;doesn’t it lose its pizazz and excitement after a while?
It would seem that it is built into every Jew to be excited about celebrating our freedom on Pesach, with all the laws that pertain to it. However there is a logical step to assume that in order to keep that excitement alive each year it is incumbent upon us to find something new to do, to get us excited for the coming Pesach, be it a new insight into the Story of Pesach or a new recipe for the meal, or even new guests to share Pesach with, something within the parameters of Jewish Law to keep the holiday exciting in order to look forward to it as it gets close and when it comes.