© 2014 Temple Beth Torah, Fremont, CA

A Word from Rabbi Schulman - 4/14/17

April 14, 2017

The most important passage in the Passover Haggadah is the verse that states that every Jew should see himself or herself as having personally left Egypt. It is not enough to see the story of the exodus as a long ago event. Instead, each of us is commanded to personalize the story as a means of our own process of liberation.


This year, I found a teaching by Rabbi Ayelet Cohen that aided my connection to the exodus. She utilizes the Ten Plagues as “an opportunity to look inwards.” She asks, “What are the fears, the judgments, the disappointments, the losses that plague us and our families?” 


Rabbi Cohen offers the following thought provoking interpretation of the Ten Plagues:


Dam – Blood: Shocking change when what sustains us becomes poisonous


Tzfardeiah – Frogs: Constant disruption


Kinim – Lice: The judgments that make our skin crawl


Ahrov – Wild Beasts: Our worst fears materializing


Dehver – Cattle Plague: Unexplained illness


Sh’kheen – Boils: What we hate about our bodies


Barad – Hail: Our environment being out of control


Arbeh – Locusts: Shattered dreams, the devastated harvest


Khoshech – Darkness: The isolation of depression or ostracism


Makat B’khrorot – Death of the Firstborns: Unspeakable loss


Though we are past the Seders of the first and second nights, Passover has not concluded. There is still time to reflect on Rabbi Cohen’s interpretation of the Ten Plagues. May they be a means for identifying aspects of our lives that are constricted. May Passover be a time for greater expansiveness of spirit, a celebration of freedom for ourselves, our families, our community, and all people.




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