Open your Haggadah, your mind and your heart and pour out your love!
So, let’s start by thinking about the methodology and the idea behind the Seder. This, the seder, night will be a very interesting collage and representation of our fantasies as well as our way of life, and by that I mean ethics and values and finally who we want to be, our vision and our dreams.
If you look at the Seder from outside it will look like a costume party! When our ancestors were thinking about “the free man” they didn’t have themselves in mind but someone else! That “someone else” were the Greeks. So our Seder looks like a Greek banquet… The four cups of wine and eating Mesubin – reclined – are probably the 2 most remarkable elements in this context.
We learn in the Mishna (Pesachim 10) that the ideas of abundance and excess reach the level that even if you feel that you had enough wine you should go for the four cups, and even if you don’t have enough money to buy and consume all that wine the community should help you to fulfill that mitzvah.
Another aspect of this experiential night of freedom has to do with teaching our children to be inquiring people, free thinkers! Ma Nishtana! We teach them to ask, why is this night different from all the rest? And in order to stimulate that question our Seder has many symbols and procedures. There are families that will go even further and do things that are completely out of their routines for example giving candy to their children before starting the dinner.
Another place in the seder in which we look like somebody else is when we express our anger in very unusual way.
We say: “Shpoch Chamatcha El Hagoyim” – Pour out your wrath against the nations. This night we speak with the anger of the slave, whose humanity is ignored and who looks at everybody else with hatred. The weak oppressed for whom everybody is a possible oppressor.
However our core values contrast this expression of fantasy and anger.
Spilling a drop of wine from our cups for each plague expresses he deep sense of Provers 22 in which we learn: “ Do not Rejoice when your enemy falls, and don’t let your heart be glad when he stumbles”
Why do we eat Matzah this night? We could have eaten anything else – behold we are free! However we need this contradiction… The abundance of the wine on the one hand represents our fantasies, and on the other hand the bread of poverty “Halachma Anya” represents modesty and our essence. We want to remember “Me’ain Bahnu” from where we came … In every generation, each person must regard himself or herself as if he or she had come out of Egypt.
Even when this night we also remember “that not just one alone has risen against us to destroy us, but in every generation they rise against us to destroy us”…. We know that we didn’t come to this world to pour our anger but to be a light unto the nations! We say “ve’hi she amda l’aboteinu ve lanu” This is what has stood by our fathers and us! Our Torah, our values!
500 (1521) years ago the following verse was found in a medieval Haggadah:
“Pour out your love on the nations who have known you and on the kingdoms who call upon your name…. May they live to see the sukkah of peace spread over your chosen ones and to participate in the joy of your nations”.
The deep pain that we have from our conflicts can’t divert us from being what we are meant to be.
It is very hard to be a light unto the nations when in every generation there is somebody asking for our destruction…. However we should be able to discern! In Israel we deal with that challenge on a daily basis!
Donniel Hartman published 10 days ago an article titled: ” What’s complicated and what’s not: Our future lies in knowing the difference”
…”We Jews have a long relationship with complexity, and indeed our version of the ancient Chinese curse is, “May you live in complicated times.” While Israel has solved many of our classic ailments, it has certainly not ushered in an era of ease and clarity. We are in the wrong neighborhood for those in search of ease, and the scope of our challenges eludes clear and simple solutions.
We have indeed been cursed to live in complicated times, but even in the fog of the Middle East, we need to remember that there is much which is not complicated at all. That an enemy combatant, be they a soldier or a terrorist, should not be left wounded and bleeding on the ground without medical assistance for more than 10 minutes, is not complicated. That deadly force should only be used as a tool of self-defense and not vengeance, is not complicated. That Israel’s Arab citizens, who for over 67 years have not posed a security threat, have the right to be treated equally, and their human rights protected, is not complicated.
That all people are created in the image of God and their dignity demands respect, whether on the street or in the hospital room, is not complicated. That 43,000 refugees from Sudan and Eritrea do not pose a threat to the Jewishness of Israel but rather an opportunity to deepen our Jewishness, is not complicated. ”
Israel sometimes succeeds to deal with that very well!
We have hundred of examples of pouring out our love to the nations…..
It goes from being present in many places in the world during hard times, Haiti, Mexico, Bosnia, Cambodia ,Singapore and many others …. to providing medical care to Syrian refugees in our hospitals in Israel! It is expressed through our technologies that make this world a better place, from irrigation systems to the most sophisticated biotech devices.
Jews around the world are part and partners in this effort, we express our Judaism by investing our efforts in social justice.
We do not boycott; we try build a better world with sensitivity and love! We do Tikkun Olam…
Why? Because we remember that “Gerim Hainu B’eretz Mitzraim” that we were strangers in the land of Egypt. That memory is a gate, it is our empathy and connection with whoever is in pain in this world. It is our key for a better humanity.
DId I say KEY?
So here is the last key concept. The seder ends with the sentence “L’shana Haba B’Yerushalaim” The next year in Jerusalem.
The word Jerusalem in Hebrew has the suffix that we use for pairs…..
Raglaim – 2 legs, Yadaim – 2 hands- Shtaim is actually the number 2 and Yerushalaim….
Our tradition recognizes the existence of 2 Jerusalems… The Jerusalem of Below, which is the physical one, the one you can get to by taking route one from Tel Aviv. And the other one the Jerusalem of above, our spiritual capital. The Jerusalem of above isn’t located in space but in time. It is the symbol of our eternal commitment to a higher standard; Our commitment to look at our lives as a working process.
We conclude our seder whishing to be next year in a Jerusalem. Reminding ourselves at the end of this experience that we need to go out and build a spiritual nation!
L’shana Haba BiYrushalaim
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach