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Change and Liberation - Passover Version, Spring 5781

16/03/2021 03:04:45 PM


Spring and Passover. The entire Jewish calendar hinges on the confluence of season with festival. Though we experience what feel like inconsistent shifts in our holiday dates from year to year (when is Passover this year??), it’s the anchoring of pesah in aviv/spring that keeps everything else in the year cycle in its season.
What a gift it is, to have the opportunity to focus our attention not only on the inevitability of renewal that comes with the change of winter to spring, but to imbue it with the theme of liberation. In a way, our return to celebrating our seders the same way we were suddenly required to do last year following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, is oddly freeing. Oddly, because overwhelmingly unbidden. But freeing, in that we can note in this, too, we can change, even as we celebrate ancient, beloved traditions.
So much has changed, even as the changes are still ongoing. The ground continues to shift underneath us, in some ways as it shifted so radically for the mixed multitudes grabbing their dough on their way out of Mitzrayim. Where and how to eat; where and how to live; where and how to pray – they were tossed into a maelstrom of transformation and adaptation.
Not long after they fled, we read in the book of Exodus, the people gathered at the base of a mountain. Their experience at Sinai would further transform them from a fleeing throng to an organized people. Their travels (were they real, or virtual?) unfolded; a temple was built and destroyed; there was exile and return, and a rebuilding in Jerusalem. Centuries later, the second Temple was besieged and then also destroyed, this time permanently, leading the rabbis who survived the siege and the destruction to flee to Yavneh, where they rebuilt the practices of their people from the ashes of a Judaism that would never again exist.
Is this a Sinai moment? a Yavneh moment? What kind of change are we facing as this winter wanes, as we approach a second spring observance of Passover in pandemic conditions?
Carrying these metaphors, along with those critical junctions from our history such as Sinai and Yavneh, into our secular lives, we can also see that within the cataclysm that has transformed life globally there may be seeds of great potential. In the awarenesses that have been laid bare around issues such as the shameful treatment of our elders, the ongoing injustices of systemic racism, the unequal economic and health impact on women, the ongoing trajectory of climate change, among others, we can bring our collective march to freedom from our virtual tables to our real live communities.
Changes and liberations, one imbuing the other, can flavour our seder meals and our lives after this Passover. When we follow the injunction to all “recline” into our cushions, let’s envision and work towards a time of ease, safety, justice and comfort for all in our communities and beyond our borders. May our dipping not once but twice, our tasting of the bitter herb and matzah, and above all, our telling of the story, lead us towards a world transformed, for good.
-       Rabbi Liz

Sat, 22 June 2024