Lean into Love
I have always loved Jack Johnson's very catchy song, "Three is the magic number!" Though, on Passover Seder night we all know that it is not three, but rather the number four that is clearly the magical one. There are four names for Passover, "Z'man Heruteynu" (Season of our Freedom) "Hag Hapesah" (Festival of the pesah sacrifice) "Hag Hamatzot" (Festival of Matzah) and "Hag Ha'aviv" (Festival of spring.) We drink four cups of wine, learn about four children and of course ask four specific questions.
Clearly, this year we have a different answer of how and why this night is different from all other nights as well as all other Passover seders we've experienced in our lifetimes. So this year, I challenge us to ask a fifth question. Even though we might not get to eat Bubbe's famous matzah ball soup or your children will not get Zadya's aifikomen prize after arguing with their favorite cousins, ask yourself this added question. How will you make this Seder night more significant, meaningful and holier than any other Seder you have experienced?
Here are my four suggestions:
1. We begin the Seder by saying, "Let all who are hungry come and eat!" Matzah is known as "lehem oni" the bread of our affliction, but it is also described as the bread of our freedom. If you are blessed to break "matzah" even with just one other person, or with your immediate family, look into each of their eyes and share one thing that amazes you about them. And if you are alone this year, embrace a glorious solitude and recognize one incredible quality about yourself. Know you are truly not alone. God is with you. All who are present is enough. Dayeinu.
2. The pinnacle of our Seder is when we say "Bchol dor v'dor," in every generation one is obligated to see oneself as one who personally went out from Egypt." This year in the middle of this pandemic and trauma we face, we bring extra attention to the experience of dipping our pinkies in the wine and placing droplets on our plates diminishing our joy as the plagues are recited. This year, perhaps we add another drop symbolizing the pain we feel from all those suffering and all the lives we have lost to our own 21st century plague.
3. As we open the door for Elijah, our ultimate symbol of faith and hope in our future redemption of peace, we can open our hearts and prayers to the doctors and nurses on the frontlines and all the scientists working tirelessly day and night to discover cures and create vaccines.
4. And finally, the traditional Hagaddah says to "Pour out our wrath on our enemies," though some modern Hagaddot also add the directive to, "Pour out our love." I suggest that the very best thing we can do is to follow the tradition of reclining, and do so in an even deeper way to cause us to "lean into love" and gratitude for our freedom with every ounce of our bodies and souls.
To conclude the seder this year, I will make the following blessing.
May it be your will our God, to bless us with deep kindness and compassion, patience and perseverance as we one day in the near future experience freedom and redemption from our current plague, remembering our faith which attests that, "Gam Zeh Ya'avor" this too shall PASS OVER.