Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Remembering to remember - Pesach 2016

Of all the Jewish holidays that have endured through the secular revolution, Pesach may be the most popular. Jews of every shade of religious observance all over the world gather in homes to celebrate it with the traditional Pesach seder meal, during which the story of the exodus from Egypt, and the lessons to be learnt therefrom, is told.

It is curious that this rather peculiar holiday should have survived. One wonders what it is all about? We are commanded to remember. “In every generation every person is obligated to see himself as if he (himself) went out from Egypt.” Why? Because freedom is to be appreciated, savored, and guarded – never to be taken for granted. Freedom is at the core of our being. To appreciate one’s freedom is to appreciate what those who are enslaved must feel. To be a Jew who appreciates freedom is to be a Jew who treats the stranger well because the Jew was once (and again) “a stranger in a strange land.”

And so we gather, eat smooze and remember. But, although we are supposed to imagine ourselves as the liberated slaves of Egypt, in truth that is not all of it or even most of it. In celebrating Pesach we create our own valuable memories. We remember the remembering because we do it together as families and friends. We are supposed to focus on the children. They will remember the food, the songs, the warmth. And, in time, so will their children.

To the narrative of the proverbial exodus we add the family narrative. We plant roots that will sprout strong trees in every generation committed to the defense and maintenance of freedom. 

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