Passover, Nissan 5777… The month of redemption has once again returned, and Seder night is fast approaching. As we marvel at the passage of time…for is it Passover again, is it spring time again, is the time of our freedom here yet again? We reflect on our freedom.
As we sit down on Seder night, whether home or away, with family or friends, it is beautiful and moving to note that the foundations of what it means to be a Jew are embedded within the rituals and customs of this exalted evening and the Passover Haggadah.
“Blessed are You G-d…Who has kept us alive, and sustained us, and brought us to this very time”. The Jew must live in a world where every moment, every hour, every day, every week, month, year is appreciated and treasured. Do we pay attention to the words of this blessing, with which we usher in the chag? Do we truly give thanks to the Almighty for allowing us to reach this time with feeling and emotion?
With our freedom we received the wondrous gift of time. “This month (of Nissan) is for you, the first month; it is the first for you of the months of the year” (Shemos 12:1). The first national mitzvah sanctifying time, strive to always use it well, and remember to appreciate the gift of life.
“This is the bread of our affliction that our forefathers ate in Egypt”. The Jew does not live in a vacuum, he does not live for himself alone, and he does not forget that generations of Jews, of history and destiny, came before him. He never thinks that he lives alone, for himself, unto himself. This is the bread – the very same bread! -that our forefathers ate in Pharaonic Egypt thousands of years ago. I remember, I recall, I relive, I experience. Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations – Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders and they will say to you (Devarim 32:7). There is a past, present and future – and I am part of that process. This is the bread of history and of today…
Seder In Warsaw Ghetto / Yad Vashem
“Let all who are hungry come and eat, let all in need come celebrate Pesach with us”. As the Jew sits down to his Passover meal, he invites others to partake of his bread, his food, his bounty, to share his home and joy. He fills not only his own belly, but that of his fellow who is in need.
We learn from the founder and father of the Jewish nation, Avraham Avinu, that the Jewish home must be a bastion of loving kindness towards others. “And Abraham lifted his eyes, and he saw – and behold, there were three men standing upon him. And he ran to greet them from the entrance of his tent, and he bowed down to the ground” (Bereishis 18:2). It is compelling to note that Avraham ran to serve the visiting angels on the Yom Tov of Pesach (see Rashi to Bereishis 18:10). The first call to the hungry was uttered and established by our forefather Abraham, as he blazed the trail for his children after him.
“Why is this night different from all the other nights of the year?” We are a thoughtful and intelligent people. We are a people who – from time to time – question, in order to learn, to understand, to know, to do. What are the laws and mitzvahs that G-d commanded you? asks the wise son. And yet, while we ask, we must accept that not every question has answers. We ask and answer. Yet sometimes, we ask and fall silent as we accept the rulership of G-d in our lives, and know that not all questions – neither on a personal or national level – can be answered.
The Torah speaks to four sons: one who is wise, one who is wicked, one who is simple, and one who does not know how to ask. The Torah speaks to all Jews, all children, all situations, and all generations. We would do well to remember that the ideal Seder table includes all types of Jews, which should serve as a life lesson to us all. While we may not look, think, act, speak, or behave the same as other Jews – we are all Jews. And the Torah speaks to us all, each in our own way. “Educate the child according to his way, so that when he is old, he will not stray from that path” (Mishlei 22:6). Whether he is wise, or whether he is wicked, whether he is simple, or whether he does not know how to ask, that child, that person, that Jew, should be around our table, as we open his heart to Torah.
As we lift the cup of wine, we declare, we shout we sing, we cry – for though in each and every generation they arise to destroy us, we know and believe with perfect faith that Hashem always saves us from their hands. I will lift the cup of salvation, and in the Name of Hashem I will call (Psalms 116:13).
We are a people who: Counts and appreciates its time; Reflects and recalls the past; Ensures that others are invited to share in the blessings and bounty; Question – even while we know that not all questions can, or should, be answered; Accepts and includes all types of Jews, from the simple to the wise; Believes, For we believe with perfect faith in the coming of Messiah, and even though he may tarry, nevertheless, we wait for him each and every day.
As we sit down to the Passover Seder, as we immerse ourselves in mitzvahs, in customs, in experience, in history, in the past, present and future, we once again celebrate leaving Egypt. For as the Sages teach: In each and every generation a person is obligated to see himself as if he left Egypt.
And so, as free Jews we celebrate this evening and give thanks to the One who brought us to Mount Sinai, and gave us the Torah, and brought us into The Land of Israel, and built for us the Holy Temple.
And for the gift of life and time, for the past, present and future, for the kindness and charity that we are able to do with others, for the questions we ask and sometimes answer, for all types of Jews, for our faith and trust, for our thankfulness and gratitude, for our Torah, our Land and our Temple… We laud, praise, glorify, and thank Hashem, Who did all these miracles for our forefathers and us.
And then we pray that we merit the ultimate redemption and a rebuilt and redeemed land and holy city of Jerusalem, may it be immediate and in our days.
Wishing You All a Happy and Kosher Passover