Contributed by: R. Yaakob Savdie
We make the above statement at the beginning of the Haggada. The purpose of this statement is to invite the poor to join us at our sedarim. This invitation seems to be totally out of place. It has nothing to do with any of the mitzvoth of the night! Why did the Hachamim decide to make this invitation part of the seder?!
We can answer this question based on the illuminating words of Rabbenu Harambam. These are his words concerning the mitzvah of rejoicing on the Yamim Tobim.
"One must rejoice and be in good spirits on these days. One's children, wife, household members, & all those surrounding him must rejoice as well, as it says: And you should rejoice on your holidays"."
How does one fulfill this mitzva? He distributes nuts and candies to the children, he buys the women fine clothing & jewelry according to his financial status, and the men eat meat & drink wine for there is no happiness except through meat & wine.
And when one is eating & drinking, he must feed the convert, orphan & widow along with the rest of the poor & less fortunate people. However, if one locks his door and eats and drinks with only his wife and children and doesn't feed the poor and heart broken people- it is not considered Simhat Mitzvah (a happiness of mitzvah) rather simhat kereso(a hapinness of his stomach). On these people the verse states "their sacrifices shall be unto them as the bread of mourners, all that eat thereof shall be polluted; for their bread shall be for their appetite." "And such happiness is truly a disgrace for them" (Hilchot Yom Yob 6:17-18)
According to the Rambam one who doesn't ensure that the poor & less fortunate people have what to eat on the holiday has not fulfilled the command of "And you should rejoice on your holidays". What an amazing concept! Although one may personally feel happy with his own family, this is not the happiness that Hashem wants. You can only be "happy" on Yom Tob if the less fortunate members of Am Yisrael are happy as well.
The night of Pesah is one of the happiest nights of the Jewish calendar. Each family sits together celebrating the tremendous events of Yetziat Mitzrayim with great joy and rejoicing. However, unless the poor are taken care of, the happiness of that night cannot be considered Simhat Mitzvah. Hence, before the focal point of the evening begins, we invite the less fortunate to join us and rejoice with us.
Nowadays the above invitation is merely symbolic. The Jewish poor people aren't wandering the streets on the night of Pesah. If we wish to help the poor we must do it before the Hag begins. We must contribute & donate to charitable organizations