As I write this, Passover has already begun for my friends and family in Europe and Israel. For those of us in the Americas, as we prepare to start the holiday and for the majority who will have a Seder like never before, I want to offer the following message of hope and encouragement.
In my years of celebrating the holiday, even when I was most focused, I admittedly would remember the past, acknowledge the present, and talk about the future. But this year the biggest difference for me is that we look at everything through a different lens.
As we look to the past, we will recount the story of the Jewish people being slaves in Egypt and the suffering of the Jewish people throughout the ages, most notably for so many of us, the suffering of the Holocaust. As human nature is prone to cause us to do, this year we find more parallels between our lives and the past suffering as ever before. That doesn’t automatically mean we are correct in drawing that parallel, but to many the death and illness, coupled with the fact that we need to stay home to avoid a plague of sorts, is enough for many to see it in that light.
Our present, which is indeed connected to the past perspective, is given more focused attention than it usually is on any given Passover. Usually Passover is a break or pause from how we conduct our every day lives, be it through changing the dietary laws, altering our work schedule, or spending time with more friends and family. This year however, it is merely a break of a few hours over the course of a matter of a few days, as so many will be conducting their lives when the holiday is over in a very similar way to how they will conduct it over Passover. At home and, at least for the time being, adjusting to a very different normal.
However, it is my belief that the biggest difference comes in how we see the future. Not just in practical terms but for those of us who are so inclined, in religious or spiritual terms. For the majority of us, talking about how this year we are slaves and next year will be free, was an important yet disconnected part of our Seder in past years. Maybe our lives haven’t always been everything we wanted, having never truly questioned our freedom, but we have never been more appreciative of that freedom as we are today. We look at our restrictions today and wonder if they will increase or diminish. We question if the future holds more significant amounts of pain and suffering than we’ve already experienced. And we question whether or not the world will become a place for all of humanity to exist in peace, freedom and love.
The answer is a simple yet complex one. We just do not know what the future holds. But to paraphrase my father of blessed memory, we are better off not knowing the future, because inevitably we learn things we rather not know. Here is what we do know. If we have the physical or mental capacity to do so, we can make our world better not just for ourselves but for those around us. Acts of kindness, patience and understanding are more than just catch phrases. They help to form that future we so dearly will look to at our Seders. But as long as we can do something to make a difference, even in one person’s life, then we always can be hopeful for a better future.
Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy Passover.
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IN CONJUNCTION WITH GLOBAL COALITION FOR ISRAEL