As we observe Passover this evening, let me share a few thoughts that you might want to bring to your Seder.
- The Hebrew word for Egypt (Mitzraim) literally means “narrow straights.” So is the Passover story more than an annual retelling of how our ancestors went forth from slavery to freedom. More broadly understood, “Egypt” represents any and all conditions from which we would hope to free ourselves and our world. “Egypt” refers to that inner struggle that confines us, and keeps us from becoming more than what we are at the present time.
- At Passover we cleanse our homes of Chometz-that which is leavened. We eat matza instead of the chometz that is bread and numerous other food items that are made from wheat. But there is also the “chometz” that is within ourselves. The chometz that is self-centeredness, apathy to the outside world, selfishness and those other traits and inclinations from which we would hope to cleanse ourselves.
- Near the beginning of the Seder we take a piece of matza and break it in half. Aside from the “game” of searching for the Afikoman, the broken matza symbolizes the brokenness of our world, and perhaps also, that which is broken in our own lives. Later in the Seder, the child comes back with the other half of the broken matza, symbolizing our hope and vision that our lives and world can yet be made whole.
- We eat Maror to remind us, not only of the bitterness of slavery, but the various forms of bitterness that we experience in our own lives and in our world. But we also eat the sweet Charoset which symbolizes the sweet blessings of our lives, and the affirmation that the sweet will overpower the bitter.
- And one more thought: As we open the door for Elijah, we do so anticipating a time when light, love, justice and righteousness will prevail in our world. Elijah symbolizes that time when our lives and our world will be healed of all that is broken and in need of fixing. Yes, we open the door, even as we realize that when Elijah does come, he will come not through the door, but through our hearts.
May this Passover be rich and meaningful for you and the people you love. And for sure, more important than the things that are on the table, are the people who are around the table. May this be a time of renewed hope and blessing for all of us.
Rabbi David Greenberg