Here is the opening of my "YU To Go" article for Pesach:
Korban is one of the most tangible expressions of the relationship between human and Creator, an incarnation of thanksgiving or apology or loyalty or joy, celebrated in the sanctum of the Jewish nation. Such a powerful religious experience, so rich in possibility but so vulnerable to abuse and misunderstanding, must be governed by regulations regarding its substance, time and place, its attendants and its ritual.
Even in the regimented world of the korban, though, the korban pesach stands out for its unique Divine prescriptions. In particular, only the korban pesach must be roasted over an open fire.
I'm proud of this article, which sprang from an idea we explored in Daf Yomi for Zevachim. Getting to the point requires a trip through some fairly esoteric material, but I took a lot of time trying to make it clear, because I believe the message is important. In particular:
We cried out for relief from our Egyptian suffering, but we were selected for national exceptionalism without our agreement; no Jewish slave in Egypt requested a covenant or a land. Our pain was our only concern; indeed, when the enslaved Hebrews witnessed Moshe’s initial failure to deliver them from their agony, they protested his very presence, calling upon HaShem to judge and punish Moshe for catalyzing Pharaoh’s increased cruelty.
Pesach is not about the realization of a national dream; rather, Pesach is about the My Fair Lady extraction of slaves from their milieu and their forced metamorphosis into the royalty that is Yisrael. In this context, Ceremony is of far greater importance than Volition. Giving a slave free rein does not convert him into aristocracy; an unfettered slave remains a slave in his thoughts and deeds, and his liberty is wasted. Ceremony is necessary in order to transform his worldview, his input and therefore his output, to suit the palace. As the Sefer haChinuch is wont to comment, “ אחרי הפעולות נמשכים הלבבות ,” “After deeds are the hearts drawn.”
Seen in that light, the Seder’s emphasis on ceremony is most sensible. The ritual of the Seder is the story of a slave learning his freedom and adjusting to the world of imbibing and reclining, to a sense of himself as someone who serves no man. And in this context, the korban pesach, too, must emphasize Ceremony over Volition. If the slave wishes not to roast the korban pesach but to boil it, he is told: Now you must become a king.
To see the rest of the article, go here. Comments wanted.