There is a conundrum that lies at the heart of the Passover Seder. On the one hand, it is an evening that is filled with custom and ritual. It is a night for reading prayers that have been offered for centuries and eating foods like matzah and bitter herbs that have graced Seder tables for thousands of years.
But the challenge that lies at the heart of Passover is that we must, every year, strive to make our Pesach observance bright and meaningful. It is not enough to do the same thing year after year, fulfilling rituals but lacking a personal connection to what we’re doing. After all, the central task of the Seder is for each of us to relive the exodus from Egypt. Relive is very different than merely remembering. It means that each of us is challenged to fulfill the dictate: Every Jew should consider himself or herself as if he or she left Egypt.
To relive the exodus means to search for meaning in the rituals; to ask questions of ourselves and of others. What does it mean to be a Jew in the 21st century? What are my responsibilities to strive for justice and liberation? How can I ensure that Judaism will be transmitted to my family and community?
The playwright, Arthur Miller, once said, “Jews are very impatient with doing the same things over and over again. It’s gotta’ be different.” In the next two weeks, in preparation for Passover, may you seek out ways in which to enliven Passover traditions with creativity and meaning.