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My Haggadah cites the Maharil in Minhagim, Hilchos Hahagadah as having asked why we don't say שעשה ניסים on Pesach. He rejects the explanation brought by others that it's because we say לפיכך חייבים להודות...למי שעשה ניסים לאבותינו, "Therefore we are obligated to thank...the One Who performed miracles for our forefathers," toward the end of Maggid, as that's not a blessing. Similarly, he rejects those who explain that it's because we say אשר גאלנו at the end of Maggid, since it makes no direct reference to the miracle. Rather, he explains, the Bracha was only instituted on Rabbinic mitzvos, i.e. Purim and Chanukah, but not Biblical ones, i.e. Pesach.

What's the logic behind this opinion? Why should whether a mitzvah is Biblical or Rabbinic have any bearing on whether the blessing thanking Hashem for a miracle be said?

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Others were somewhat troubled by this explanation as well. R. Yechiel Michel Epstein explains it as follows:

Aruch Hashulchan O.C. 473:3

ובשם מהרי"ל ראיתי טעם מפני שהיא מצוה הכתובה בתורה ואין מברכין שעשה נסים אלא אמצוה דרבנן כגון חנוכה ופורים [פרישה] ולכאורה אין הדברים מובנים והאמת דה"פ דהנה כל הברכות תקנו רבנן ולא שייך ברכה אלא לברך להקב"ה אשר צוונו במצוה זו כמו לאכול מצה לישב בסוכה לתקוע בשופר אבל לא לעשות מעצם המצוה ברכה וכיון דמן התורה אנו מצווים לספר הנסים בלילה זה והוי מצות עשה א"כ איך נברך שעשה נסים והרי זהו עצם המצוה והוי כהגדה אחר הגדה וברכת אשר גאלנו העיקר על אכילת מצה ומרור כמו שאומרים והגיענו הלילה הזה לאכול בו מצה ומרור אבל שעשה נסים זהו עיקר מצות סיפור יציאת מצרים ורק אמצוה דרבנן הרשות בידם ולא בדאורייתא

And in the name of the Maharil I saw a reason – because it is a mitzvah that is written in the Torah, and we son't make the blessing of "who performed miracles" except on a rabbinic mitzvah like Chanukah and Purim (Perishah). And these words seem not understandable. But the truth is that this is the explanation: The Sages instituted all the blessings, and a blessing is only applicable to bless God that he commanded us in this mitzvah, such as to eat matzah, to sit in a succah, to blow a shofar, but not to make a blessing out of the essence of the mitzvah. So since we are commanded from the Torah to discuss the miracles on this night, and it is a positive commandment, how could we then bless "who performed miracles" considering that that is the essence of the mitzvah and it would be like a discussion after a discussion. And the blessing of "who redeemed us" is primarily on the eating of the matzah and maror, as we say that we have reached this night to eat matzah and maror. But "who performed miracles" is the primary aspect of the mitzvah of discussing the Exodus from Egypt. And they only have permission [to set this blessing] on a rabbinic mitzvah, not on a biblical mitzvah.

R. Menachem Mendel Kasher explains it as follows:

Torah Sheleimah Vol. XV Miluim # 1

והנה טעמו של המהר"ל שכ' ומצות ופסח דאורייתא גם בלא הנס צ"ב ונ"ל כוונתו שחג הפסח ואכילת מצה הם מצות דאורייתא שעיקרם זכר הנס של יציאת מצרים כמ"ש בתורה משום זה לא תקנו חכמים ברכה מיוחדת על הנס מכיון שהתורה עצמה כבר עשתה מצוות זכר לנס ומ"ש בלא הנס כלומר בלי ברכת שעשה נסים ועפ"ד

And behold, the reason of the Maharil who writes that matzah and pesach are biblical [mitzvot] even without the miracle, requires explanation. And it seems to me that his intent is that the holiday of Passover and the eating of matzah are biblical commandments whose primary aspect is a remembrance of the miracle of the Exodus from Egypt, as is stated in the Torah. Because of this the Sages did not institute a special blessing on the miracle, since the Torah itself already made mitzvot in remembrance of the miracle. And that which he says "without the miracle" means without the blessing of "who performed miracles".

  • I don't understand the Aruch HaShulchan's explanation. His answer doesn't seem to distinguish between d'Oraisos and d'Rabbanans, but rather between Pesach specifically versus Purim and Chanukah. His last line doesn't seem to flow from his explanation. – DonielF Apr 17 at 1:45
  • @DonielF I think he's saying that a ברכה דרבנן is simply redundant when there's already a מצוה דארייתא that accomplishes the same thing. That would seem to apply in any case where there would be a miracle and a מצוה דארייתא whose essence is about the miracle. – Alex Apr 17 at 1:53
  • The wording of "discussion after discussion" seems to indicate it's specifically because the mitzvah is סיפור יציאת מצרים, not that there's a mitzvah in general. – DonielF Apr 17 at 2:01
  • @DonielF Correct. It's not because there's a mitzvah in general. It's because there's a mitzvah whose essence is basically the same thing as having a berachah about the miracles. – Alex Apr 17 at 2:03
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – DonielF Apr 17 at 2:15

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