My grandfather Reb Moshe Rubin liked to tell this story at the second Seder or on the second day of Passover:
Reb Shmuel of Karov was a poor but pious Chassid of the Chozeh of Lublin. One year, as Passover was approaching, a wealthy Chassid, let’s name him Reb Hirsch, came to his Rebbe, the Chozeh of Lublin, asking for a blessing for an important matter. The Rebbe, known as the Chozeh, agreed to bless him, on the condition that the wealthy Reb Hirsch arrange for a delivery of Passover goods to the poor Reb Shmuel and his family.
Reb Hirsch (or whatever name it was) lost no time in doing just that. He went out and purchased everything a family might need for the holiday, from food to clothing or dishware, all of the best quality and sent the wagon off to Karov. Shmuel’s family was delighted with the holiday surprise. Now the children had shoes and dresses for the holiday, there was ample foods, they had wine and Matzah and everything their heart desired.
That Passover Reb Shmuel’s family sat down to the first seder in Karov, like never before. They sang and they shared stories, their hearts and stomachs were full, and the Seder was the richest and finest they ever had. But their poor stomachs were not used to all that rich food, and the next morning they all felt sick, especially Reb Shmuel. He couldn’t even get out of bed to go to synagogue for the holiday.
Late on the second night, Shmuel’s wife tried to get him to come sit with the children. After all, it was the second Passover night and they needed to have a Seder. Shmuel couldn’t move, his head was heavy from the fine wines and his stomach rumbling from all the foods he ate the night before. But his wife insisted, the children were waiting, and it was an obligation, so he dragged himself to the table, and led the most basic Seder of his life, just the bare essentials, all over in under an hour, just to fulfill the Mitzvah.
After the holiday, Reb Shmuel was distraught. True, his first Seder was magnificent but his second Seder was a disaster, hardly befitting the Chassid that he was. He hurried off to see his Rebbe, the Chozeh of Lublin. As soon as he crossed the Chozeh’s threshold, his Rebbe told him: “Your second Seder was better than the first!”
What!? How could this be? The first Seder was so meaningful and memorable, chock-full of stories and songs, and positive festive atmosphere; while his second Seder was a rush job, done only out of a sense of obligation with almost no spirit or feeling…
The Chozeh explained: No question you felt better about the first Seder. You and your family must have enjoyed that much more. But the Mitzvot are not only about what we get out of it, but how we serve G-d. And in terms of serving G-d, the second Seder you did for no other reason than out of a sense of obligation. You did it only for G-d! And that’s why I liked your second Seder better.