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Rabbi's Week In Review - 3/29/2021

03/29/2021 03:24:45 PM

Mar29

Passover, maybe more than any other Jewish holiday, presents an opportunity for discussion and a plethora of interpretations. It is why, as a famous Talmudic tale relates, our great sages of the Talmud were enveloped in discussion throughout the night, until their students informed them it was time for the Shaharit (morning) service.

While we relate to a set group of four questions, the answers vary with time and circumstance. It is a hallmark of our ongoing survival that we have a strong foundation in our Written Torah and Halakhah (Jewish law), balanced against Aggadah (our dynamic Oral Torah). Oral Torah represents our ability to adjust our interpretation of Torah to newly acquired knowledge, to create a better world.

This year, we used the HIAS Haggadah, the immigration-rights-themed Haggadah from the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. We discover that as we perform the mitzvah of Magid — the commandment to retell and to live our story of exodus from slavery — the stories of today’s refugees are much like our own through history. 

I could have chosen an LGBTQ-themed Haggadah, an anti-racist Haggadah, an environmentally conscious Haggadah, a very traditional Haggadah, or the classic Maxwell House Haggadah. As Jews, we have shared and lived the same stories. Yet we may have gleaned a very different sense of what those stories mean to us, and how our past guides our future.

So as we continue to ponder the questions — Why is this night different…? Why were we redeemed from slavery? for what purpose? Why is Passover our most popular holiday? — there are so many more questions to think about. As we consider our deepest questions and our stories, let us be open to hear the stories of others, and to see the stories of the strangers in our midst as our own.

To all for the remainder of our holiday, a Zissen Pesach — a Sweet Passover.

Tue, April 20 2021 8 Iyyar 5781