As we prepare for Passover, I wanted to share a couple of customs which we practice at our home. At the beginning of the seder, we pass the Elijah’s cup around the table and ask everyone to pour some of their wine or grape juice into the Elijah’s cup. Elijah is supposed to visit our seder in order to usher in an age of freedom and peace, marking the beginning of the messianic era. In this way, each of us feels as if we are contributing something toward the bringing of the Messianic era to our world. Depending upon who attends your seder, you may want to ask your guests what they can do to perform acts of tikkun or repair in order to improve our world.
We also pass around a Miriam’s cup, which is a cup that we fill with water. Miriam was responsible for nurturing our ancestors in the wilderness since she knew where to look for and find water. As water sustains us, so Miriam’s love sustained us during our journey. We mention women who have sustained us in our lives and/or who have nurtured us. Sometimes we ask those at our seder to mention a woman who is a heroine in the their lives so that we can learn about women who have made a difference in our world.
This year, we are going to begin a custom where we ask people to share a place where they will donate an afikoman gift, in order to brighten the world of someone less fortunate.
Finally, I hope that as you are cleaning your rooms, apartments, whatever… and getting rid of the chometz or leaven, you will take this opportunity to clean out the hametz from your lives. Sometimes we become consumed by the little frustrations and “crumbs” that fill our lives and lose sight of the big picture. I hope that we are liberated from those petty concerns that cause us to lose sleep and become tense and can be thankful for the blessings we have. As we prepare for the end of the semester, it is a stressful time, but keep looking at the big picture and remember that each of us is preparing for opportunities that hopefully will lead us to the promised land of meaningful careers and professional fulfillment.
Rabbi Bruce Aft
GMU Hillel Rabbinic Advisor