Pesach is my favorite holiday of the year. I love the food, storytelling, and singing. However, most of all, I love that the Seder house, no matter the size of the home or the company, always feels packed with loved ones and family. No matter how we celebrate, this Pesach will feel very different. The Four Questions take on an entirely new and added meaning this year. Why is this Seder different from all other Seders? Let us count the ways.
Instead of celebrating Pesach with only our immediate family and friends, we will be able to celebrate with people far and wide, as a Temple Emanu-El community, and in ways we have never done before. Yes, we will miss the hugs and kisses from family and friends, but we will make up for that with the smiles, laughter, and good discussions that will fill the airwaves this year.
The story of Pesach has an eternal meaning to it. The story of a people once enslaved, now free from tyranny is one that has resonated with the Western world for hundreds of years (if not longer). This year we will find a new meaning in the term “captivity” when we tell the story of our ancestors’ journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. While we are still “free” in the political sense, we are very much held captive by forces greater than any human being. Who else but God do we turn to when we are confronted with obstacles that are seemingly insurmountable. What we find from the story of Pesach is that the impossible is truly possible when we rely on one another and God to bring us through even the most difficult circumstances.
To connect us to our weekly Torah portion, Tzav, we read about the eternal flame that was kept in the Tabernacle. This flame was not made eternal by divine magic nor by the work of one person; rather, the entire tribe of Levites was responsible for maintaining the flame. Our Seder is different this year because the flame of Jewish life cannot be left for the matriarchs or patriarchs of the family to push us through these troubled times. Our communal fire will only remain alive and eternal if we each make active decisions to keep it lit. It’s not easy to maintain the flame, and that’s why it takes a village.
As Seder nears, know that you are not alone. You have us, you have a community of people who will support you when times get rough—and times are rough. This is not the moment to disconnect; rather this is the time to lean into our relationships and know that we will be leaning back to support one another.
Finally, this year will be really different because doing the dishes will be really easy! Think of all the time you’ll save in front of the sink.