As we celebrate our Seders and recall the Exodus from Egypt, how can we not think of the asylum seekers at our Southern border? The Haggadah reminds us that we too have sought new homes so many times throughout history, both in ancient times, and at the beginning of the twentieth century. Just as my grandparents came to this country at that time, so do we all have accounts of our own ancestors coming to this “land of opportunity.” And while I doubt that any of us has the answer to our current immigration predicament, the Seder calls to us to think of these people and to recognize their humanity. They certainly deserve mention and discussion as we retell our own story tonight.
Another thought about the Seder: Near the beginning, we take a piece of matzah and break it in half. So do we start our Seder with a broken piece of matzah, symbolizing the brokenness of our world. Later, after the meal, we ask the children to find the broken piece and return it to the table. We call this the afikoman. Is this but a game or a means of keeping our children engaged, or is there some deeper meaning here? And of course I think there is.
At Passover we are to not only think of the past, but of the present and the future also. We look at our still broken world and recognize that redemption is not over; our matzah is broken and not whole. There is still much trembling on earth as we confront the plagues of hunger, war, greed, pollution, and the callousness that we often exhibit toward our fellow human beings. The broken matzah shakes us by the shoulders and shouts into our hearts: “Do not bury your spirit in history. Don’t think that it’s over.” No, the challenge of the present is still before us.
And so do we send our children to retrieve, not just a broken piece of matzah but the very symbol of our world being made whole. That is the sacred message of Passover: that we affirm our faith that redemption can yet come. Our lives can yet be made “whole.” Our world can yet be redeemed from the pain and suffering that so many endure.
For all of us, may this Passover lead us to be mindful of our own blessings, even as we commit ourselves to doing our part to fix some of the brokenness that can be found everywhere. I wish you and your loved ones a sweet and meaningful Passover.
Rabbi David Greenberg