To quote the Passover Hagaddah: “In every generation each individual is bound to regard himself as if he had gone personally forth from Egypt.”
At Passover Seders each year, we recite these timeless instructions to regard ourselves as having personally lived through these events of the Exodus. The Seder itself is designed to help us envision our participation in the story. We dip parsley into saltwater to remember the tears we shed in Egypt, and we munch on spicy, bitter horseradish in an attempt to replicate a little of the misery we experienced as slaves.
In a world of instant gratification and endless inter-connectivity in which everyone’s life is an open book…. We continue to celebrate our oneness…. in this melting pot we call America, But the the questions remains…. Are any of us still special???….. is anything still sacred?
The answer to both these questions is..YES…. We are…..We are the Jews, a kingdom of Priests with a special covenant that is ours alone.
We need to remember as Jews, that life is not about perfection but about a process. Abraham had to decide who he was not and then find out who he was. This is true for all of us. Try as we might ,Most of us come from the same troubled place and have to move away from this continuous definition of self.. to a final spiritual identity. Although we may sometimes feel that our lives are unbearable, every day takes us to a new place. The ability to say yes to inspiration and no to what distances us from G-D takes us toward our true purpose.
The Haggadah teaches us to accept people as they are, whichever one of the four sons they happen to be. It teaches us to be humble enough to ask the questions and to see G-D providing us with everything we have and need…. including the answers. It teaches us to approach life from a place of giving,… rather than taking.
So, freedom itself is only half the story. What we do with our freedom-that’s the question. We need a purpose in life, and we need to build a moral, spiritual infrastructure to help guide us through our lives. Otherwise we wander aimlessly through the wilderness of life,… and our freedom remains undeveloped potential.
Tonight is Passover, and while society insists that we are all the same, we — the Jewish people — know that we are different. In a world that has given up so much, we hold firm to our timeless covenant with God. We are the chosen people. We are the 12 tribes of Israel. We were freed from captivity and we have been saved again and again!!!..
The very fact that we are here today to recount that story – while oppressive nations far mightier than us… have come and gone – is indication of G-d’s miraculous intervention throughout history.
We honor Passover as our “day of freedom,” in which we remember our ancestors who led the Exodus from Egypt after centuries of slavery. Passover is the birth of our Jewish nation, and its lessons of struggle continue to form the bond that links us to God and to one another through our shared identity and our common purpose. We must never forget that the word itself — Passover — derives its meaning from our singular position as the chosen ones whom God passed over in his slaying of the first born of Egypt. We are the Jewish people, and we must always remember that it was our ancestors who were spared in their struggle for freedom. And we remember that each of those Jews held true to their Jewish faith, so that we too…, could one day sit around a table of opulence and recall those days of slavery in Egypt.
Passover is a time for redemption, but this is also a time for letting go of the things that are preventing us from achieving our own personal exodus. Slavery is about more than just forced labor. In today’s world we become slaves to all sorts of things. The Torah teaches us that the Exodus from Egypt was more than simply a physical freedom, as psychologically our people still felt enslaved …..and emotionally connected to their Egyptian oppressors. It was not until they saw with their own eyes how the Egyptians drowned in the Red Sea that our ancestors truly felt liberated.
Tonight is Passover, and more than any other night we must remember that we are different. Tonight, we recognize our unique place at the side of God. When we breathe, we breathe in the sweet breath of freedom. We bask in the beautiful glow of the candlelight as it sparkles in our children’s eyes. The red wine shimmers in Elijah’s cup…. On this night we celebrate our nation and the teachings of the Torah. Once we were slaves to what seemed like the entire world, but not tonight…tonight we remember… we are the heirs to a long line of kings and a light unto the nations. Tonight is Passover and everything is different!!!.
Even though there are still times when we don’t feel worthy of being different, of being chosen. THE DAYS WHEN WE are LOST IN OUR OWN INTERNAL EGYPT. These are the days when the world seems too much to bear and we are not righteous enough or strong enough to defy it. But not tonight. Tonight we are the fulfillment of God’s age old promise to Abraham ,Isaac and Jacob: the completion of the covenant and the rebirth of hope. Tonight is different my friends… because tonight…. WE ARE the JEWS.THE NATION THAT ACCEPTED THE TORAH AT MOUNT SINAI AND MADE AN EVERLASTING COVENANT WITH G-D…………Shabbat Shalom
One more thing….when my kids were younger the only thing they always missed… even with the crushed up Matza sandwiches they took to school for lunch….. was pizza…..sorry kids no Chometz……but a great Idea popped into my daughters head….what about using matza for the crust,put on kosher tomato sauce and we top it with
Matza-rella cheese. Great thinking Heather.
Probably my earliest childhood memories of passover was at my Grandfathers house, always with his own special homemade kosher for passover wine he made in a special barrel in the basement. Well wine really has nothing to do with the story….the real story was that I was always the youngest kid at the Seder and my older brother OBM would always make me ask the question of the simple son….why I would ask him, am I simple? And the answer was always the same…. Because you are both the youngest and mainly because you are just a moron and then he would usually punch me and tell me to shut up. I’ll tell you Nothing compares with sibling Rivalry.