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At Passover, Working to Fight the Realities of Today.

04/25/2024 01:00:32 PM


Rabbi Bryan Wexler

Moadim L’Simha—Happy Passover!  I hope you are having a meaningful holiday and are not yet too sick of all of the matzah! Each year, the days leading up to Passover are filled with hard work, and sometimes even stress.   But I have to admit, and I hope you have the same experience, each year during the seders I find myself looking around the Seder table at family, friends, and loved ones, and thinking to myself: “once again, all of the preparation was definitely worth it.”  Each year that thought is accompanied by a deep exhale and a feeling of “ahh” as I finally relax and enjoyment sets in.

The Seders this year were different.  Yes, as always, I experienced that sense of gratitude and love as I looked around our Seder table on both Monday and Tuesday night.  However, that deep exhale never came.  Not because I wasn’t surrounded by loved ones and not because there were no blessings to be found.  Rather, because of a keen awareness of what is currently going on in Israel, around the world, and in our country, especially on many college campuses.  No “ahh” this year, only “uchs” and “oys.”  

What is happening in our world?  How can there be so much hatred and bigotry?  Anti-Zionism, which is Anti-Semitism, is running rampant.  Is this a dream?  No, it’s a nightmare.  We read in the Haggadah (in the song Vehi She’amda): “Shelo echad bilvad, amad aleinu l'chaloteinu. Ela sheb'chol dor vador, om'dim aleinu l'chaloteinu, --Not only one (enemy) has risen up against us to destroy us, but in every generation, they rise up to destroy us.” An unfortunate truth; our current reality.  So what do we do?  We follow the lead of the Seder which teaches us the importance of:
1.    Coming together as a family and as a people
2.    Educating (all ages and all backgrounds)
3.    Stepping into our Jewish identity with pride through word, action, and practice
4.    Standing up against persecution and hate

And perhaps most of all, as the holiday teaches us, we must partner with God in bringing about freedom, redemption, our hopes for tomorrow.  As Vehi She’amda concludes: “v'HaKadosh Baruch Hu matzileinu mi-yadam.-- But the Holy One, Blessed be He, delivers us from their hands.” The story of Passover is about partnership between God and humanity which makes redemption possible.  When we bring God into the world, when we bring light into darkness, healing into pain, holiness into hatred, then we not only find ourselves within the story of Passover, but we find ourselves working to fight the realities of today. 

I want to invite you to listen to this new recording of Vehi She’amda, sung by the Y-Studs A Capella and joined by Daniel Wais, who survived the attacks of October 7th on Kibbutz Be’eri but lost both of his parents.  As you listen, and as we move through the holiday of Passover, may we resolve to actively partner with God to ensure his promise of redemption for our people and our world become a reality.

Hag Sameah and Shabbat Shalom.

Sun, July 14 2024 8 Tammuz 5784