Apr. 1, 2012
Beginning on April 6, we will begin the observance of Pesach. One of the names for this holiday is Chag haAviv or the Festival
of Spring. The Passover seder has many symbols of springtime, and references our history as farmers with prayers of thanks to G-d for life itself woven into the various parts of the seder. The name Chag haMatzot or the Festival of Matza is another name that reminds us of the y'tsiaht mitsrayim (leaving Egypt in haste) and the bread that was baked so fast that it didn't have time to rise. The name Z'man Cheiruteinu is a name for Passover (or Pesach, in Hebrew) that reminds us that Pesach is a time for us to remember being freed from slavery. The name Pesach can be understood to mean passing over as the Jewish children were passed over or spared from the tenth plague of the slaying of the first born.
This holiday, in my opinion, has more opportunities for families and friends to share precious moments together. It can also be a very bittersweet time for us as we remember the loved ones who were once with us at this season but now are a memory, or those of our people who were taken from us during the time of the Shoah. We are instructed to tell and retell the stories of Pesach to all our children and for good reason. At weddings we say im eshkachech, or if I forget; and so it is with the lessons to be learned from this festival. We should also say im eshkachech, if I forget, as we must continue to remember.
Some years ago we were visited by a group from Los Angeles' Congregation Bet T'shuva with whom we participated in a seder that examined the idea that many of us have addictions or people in our lives that struggle with addiction.
On March 29, clergy and members of the First Presbyterian Church of Burlingame joined members of PTS for a Freedom Seder, at which we considered the fact that there still exists in the world today slavery, oppression, and all the elements that lead to these conditions. We will reinterpret many of the symbols of the seder to address current political and social issues. Embedded in all this is the knowledge that we can all work together for change. We might not fix everything but as the Talmud's Pirkei Avot tells us, "It is not incumbent upon us to finish the work but neither can we desist from it."
The final words of a traditional seder end in song with the words L'shana haBa'ah b'Yerushalayim, or next year in Jerusalem.
A vision of what should be there for each of us. For some it is the ability to travel to Jerusalem, while for others it is to be able to work and provide for their families, and yet others to have the opportunity to go to school. They are all part of the yerusha, or inheritance, that should be available to all of us and our children and the children that are yet to be.
L'Shana haBa'ah, in the year to come... Let us all work for the day when each of us can, in the words of Mica, "...sit under our vine and/or fig tree with none to make us afraid..." or be able to do what we or be where we want to be and with whomever in freedom and safety.
Ken yirbu. Chag sameach.