Passover is a favorite holiday of mine. I find it both inspiring and humbling. The preparation takes thought and time, effort and energy. The observance reminds us of an important place and time in our collective history and sets the stage for our continued narrative as a people.
While there is still much that needs to be done by hand for Passover, modern technology has eased some of the preparation. Last night I pulled out my food processor to make a batch of my favorite Sephardic charoset. Through the whir, I thought about my grandma chopping apples and walnuts by hand for our traditional Ashkenazi version. All I could hear was the rythmic banging of my grandma’s chopping blade against her old wooden bowl, while the noise from the food processor filled the room. In many ways our worlds have changed exponentially, yet Passover brings us back to honor our ancient traditions.
When I think about the story of our Exodus from Egypt, it is hard not to pause and imagine what it may have felt like to hear the news – move quickly, we are leaving Egypt. There wasn’t a Facebook posting or a Twitter feed to let everyone know instantly – time to go! Yet, word spread quickly presumably by word of mouth. We did not tarry and we moved from slavery to freedom.
It is an honor to be a free people, one that not every people enjoy. Each year at Passover, through our seders and observances, not only do we remind ourselves that we were not free, but we are also expected to relive the experience, as if we were in Egypt. This connects us with our history, but more importantly, this enables us to appreciate the freedom that we enjoy, and at times take for granted today.
Truly feeling the burden of slavery inspires and implores us to use our freedom to make the world better for those who are not as fortunate as we are. Freedom is never to be taken for granted. I believe this may be the most important lesson of Passover. We must remember that freedom is never a burden and that it should be treated as an honor. But with this honor comes the reminder of our important responsibilities, both personal and communal.
Our personal responsibility involves how we relate to one another, our family, friends, neighbors and the stranger. Our communal responsibility encompasses how we care for those in need and create a bright Jewish future. I am grateful to live in a time when we continue to make our world a better place for all people and fulfill our responsibilities.
Passover is humbling because we are reminded that freedom is not guaranteed and our piece of history today is a mere blip in time. It is today’s freedom that allows us not only to survive, but to thrive as a people. For this I am also grateful at Passover and all year long.
My family and I wish you a happy and meaningful Passover and a restful Shabbat.