Have you been at home on a Saturday night and thought to yourself, “Which movie should I rent tonight? Should I try something new or go with an old favorite”? Sure, some of us like to live on the edge and try out the new “flick” while others find difficulty in breaking out of our comfort zone. New stories keep us on the edge of our seats, but I am the first to admit that I cannot wait to see whether or not Apollo 13 Astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert make it back to Earth safely every time I watch the movie!
This brings us to the question we ask ourselves every Spring: Why do we participate in a Pesach Seder? Some say because it’s what we’ve always done with our friends and family.
Others answer because the Rabbis wrote out and described the ritual in the Mishnah based on instructions from the Torah’s Exodus narrative. And what is the correct answer? They’re all correct! Jews from around the globe come together and institute their own traditions that have been carried out through the generations. One family may use apples, nuts and wine for their Charoset (as mine does) while others use dates and dried fruit as the foundation (also absolutely delicious!). The Mishnah states that the youngest child should chant the “Four Questions”, don’t we all find ourselves chanting along quietly as if we were still the youngest kid? And I know that each of us can’t wait to dive in into the best Matzah Ball Soup in the world, for each family believes theirs can’t be beat!
Our minchagim, customs, may change from Seder to Seder and community to community. But, our intentions remain similar: We remember and remind ourselves each year that, Avadim Chayinu, we once lived as slaves in the land of Egypt. We thank God for redeeming our people and giving us a land flowing with milk and honey. We sing together, we make the same faces when we eat horseradish and we recline at the same time after finishing the festive meal.
We have heard and experienced this story time and again, and yet, we still find value each year to recall and reinforce the beauty, the challenges and the miracles of our past. We take old traditions and combine them with our new ones to ensure that a new generation will always remember our story. Yes, watching a new movie is quite exciting! However, let’s not be afraid to go back to our story every now and again.
Chag Pesach Sameach (Happy Passover!)
Student Rabbi Bryan Zive