“In every generation every person is obligated to to see him/herself as though he had come forth.”
One week from tonight we will observe the festival of Passover. So are we in the midst of buying matzah, preparing the charoset, and thinking about making our Seders as meaningful as possible.
As we come together with family and friends, we will tell of how we were slaves in Egypt who went forth to freedom. So has every generation told the story, and relearned the lessons that the highest expression of our religion is to care for our fellow human beings, and that love of God begins with acts of loving-kindness toward those who endure oppression.
This year I think of the tens of thousands of people who are at or near our southern border; people of all ages who are longing for freedom and the “land of opportunity” that is America. I wish I had an answer to this crisis, even as it is heartbreaking to see so many people who don’t know what their future holds.
Especially during Passover, we remember Elijah the Prophet whom we associate with a time of peace and universal well-being. We don’t know the identity of Elijah; only that our rabbis long ago affirmed that “Elijah” exists in every generation and that he/she will be revealed at Passover.
I like the story of a young girl who was asked by her grandfather to open the door for Elijah as the Passover Seder. But she became frightened and told her grandfather that she was afraid of what Elijah might look like. He might be very scary to look upon. And the grandfather explained to the girl: “Don’t worry. When Elijah finally comes at Passover, he will come not through the door, but through our hearts.”
As we prepare for our Passover Seders, may this be a time when our hearts are open; a time when we remind ourselves that it is through each act of kindness that we perform for others that we bring Elijah a little bit closer to our world.
Yes, freedom is a precious gift. May we cherish and protect it.
In spite of the multitude of “plagues” that we know in our world today, and especially the plague of anti-Semitism, let us proudly come together as families and friends to celebrate this truly sacred time in our Jewish lives. Not only for us does Passover speak of cherished values and ideals that remain the hope of our world.
Rabbi David Greenberg