I hope you are taking the time to invest in explanations for the Seders next week. Just look up and memorise a few ideas and take the interest and courage to give them over at your Seders. I will again be sharing some ideas with you over Shabbat to give you a little more to think about as we approach these most meaningful days of the Jewish year. Let’s not just pass over Passover! Let’s make the most of it.
Eleventh Century scholar, Judah Halevi, once compared the Jewish people to a seed. In his Kuzari, a fictional dialogue between the Jews and the king of the Khazars, the king asks the rabbi a pointed question. How is it that if you are truly chosen by G-d, you are subjected everywhere to humiliation and persecution? Where is your greatness? The rabbi replies: We are like the seed of a tree. When first planted in the ground, it disintegrates and seems to disappear. But really it is gathering the strength to grow. Eventually, it will put forth roots and shoots and begin to reach towards the heavens!
This, my friends, is what Pesach has been achieving for over two thousand years of Jewish exile. Despite all of our hardships and struggles throughout the generations, its message of justice and freedom has continued to inspire us to never give up hope that one day, we will be rid of our tormentors and free to return to our promised land. It has reminded us that each one of us contains infinite and redemptive powers that if utilised, can bring healing, blessing and peace to our lives and the world around us.
In hebrew, the word for Egypt, ‘Mitzrayim’ can also be read as ‘Metzarim’, meaning boundaries or struggle. As a rabbi, I am often privy to the private details in people’s lives. I can tell you, that everyone faces a struggle. By virtue of being human, everyone faces some sort of challenge either concerning health, relationships, livelihood, purpose in life, raising children, ageing parents and the list goes on. Yet comes Pesach like water to the seed and tells us to not give up hope. The very moment we think we have sunk to our lowest can truly become the turnaround point for our climb towards the summit.
This is but one of many empowering messages contained within the story of Pesach and the Haggadah. This year, let’s take the time and effort to contemplate just how different our lives are to those of our ancestors living three thousand years ago. We may just find that their experiences are a mirror image of our own and their messages just as relevant.
Wishing you all a Shabbat shalom and Chag Sameach. Please join us in Shule!!!
Rabbi Yossi and Chana Raizel Friedman