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91http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2012/04/Rabbi-Lyon%27s-Blog---04_06_2012
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 04_06_2012
04/04/2012 10:31 AM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
April 6, 2012

 

Passover is here. We call it a holiday but it’s filled with many responsibilities. The most obvious responsibility is cleansing the house of “chametz”, all the food items prohibited during Passover. Another responsibility includes telling the story of Passover when we sit around the tables for our Seder with family and friends. But, this year, I’d like you to include another responsibility. I invite you not only to tell the story, but also to hear the story, personally. In the hearing, there is so much for us to learn and know.

                For example, the plagues that we recite are familiar to us. There are locusts, boils and darkness, but they aren’t the only ones that should concern us. Modern plagues such as homelessness, hunger, ignorance, and racism are part of our world we can’t escape. There is no redemption from these plagues unless we do something about them. God redeemed us from Egypt, but it couldn’t have happened without the human will to follow Moses who had faith in God’s plan for the Israelites. Likewise, freedom from modern plagues isn’t impossible, but it also depends on the human will to follow leaders who have faith that we can aspire to God’s plan for all people to be free.

                At our Seder tables, we’ll remove a drop of wine from our cups as we recite each plague. It’s meant to reduce our joy, of which wine is a symbol, to acknowledge the suffering of the Egyptians, also God’s people, so that the Israelites might go free. Shouldn’t we take out more drops of wine from our cups of joy for the plagues still suffered by God’s people, today? Ask guests at your Seder to name a plague that causes God’s people to suffer, today. I hope there’s some wine to enjoy after everyone has a chance to name a modern plague. Nevertheless, there is enough human will to make a world of difference.

                Another opportunity we have to hear comes when we sing the familiar song, Dayenu. It means, “It would have been enough” if God had only given us Torah, but God did more than that. Likewise, there are many heroes and unsung heroes today who recognize the human spirit within them to lead the way and make a difference. Who are they? Oprah? Bono? Bill Gates? Fame only gives them access to resources, but maybe a parent, a community leader, or even a child has made such a difference that we could say of them, “It would have been enough” had they only given money to help, but they also built a school, provided an education, addressed world disease, or raised awareness.

                Passover is our spring holiday that speaks of freedom and renewal. It sings of faith and hope. All around us are signs of the human will to lead the way with God’s help for all the things we know are possible. At your tables this week, tell the story, sing the songs, and eat the foods; but, don’t conclude until you identify the challenges, recognize the possibilities, and pledge to lead the way, too. Otherwise, the Seder is just another ritual that is linked to the past instead of the future. Judaism gains sustenance from the past but it lives for the future. Be part of the future in Judaism that is modern, relevant, and joyful for all.

                From my family to yours, Shabbat Shalom and Happy Passover.

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