I wish all of you a Happy, Healthy, Ziessen (sweet) Pesach. I hope you are together with people who are important to you and that we will all find something to liberate ourselves from that will make us feel better about ourselves and our lives.
My colleague, Rabbi Mitch Wohlberg suggested recently that one of the things that makes this night different from all other nights is that we gather with those who are dear to us for a significant Jewish event and enjoy dinner together. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could find other opportunities, including Shabbat, to be together with our families and friends?
I often wonder what we could do as individuals and a community to make this year different than every other year. What commitments are we prepared to make to really embrace that which is important to us? We speak of four children at the seder and are commanded to tell the story so that the wise, the alienated, the simple, and the one who doesn’t know how to ask, can understand. What kind of person do we want to be? Do we wish to make the cause of the underprivileged our own? Do we wish to embrace our freedom by reaching out and working with causes that help enhance the plight of the oppressed?
What kinds of questions do we ask at our seder? We know the formula for asking questions about matzah, bitter herbs, dipping, and reclining. But what are the meaningful questions about our lives that we wish to ask? Are we satisfied with our careers, our major in college, our extra curricular activities, our friends, our sports teams (ok, you knew I would put that one in there so close to opening day…Go Nationals! (and White Sox, of course)), our relationships, what we are doing with our lives…? What are we prepared to do to respond to the tough questions that we could address to ourselves or that others could ask us?
Pesach is a time of liberation, a time to dream, a time to reshape our journey. I often believe that Moses was a GPS, a guide to personal spirituality. May each of us find meaningful paths as we journey toward our promised land. And….like Nachshon, who took the first step into the Red Sea and had faith that he could cross over the Red Sea to safety, may we have the courage to take that first step toward our own liberation, toward our own freedom from something that enslaves us, and as Debbie Friedman wrote in her prayer of healing, may we have the courage to make our lives a blessing.
Hag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Bruce Aft
GMU Hillel Rabbinic Advisor