Grant me the grace of wonder.
Surprise me, amaze me, awe me in every crevice of Your universe.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
Liberation stories appear among cultures all over the world, but the Exodus narrative belongs to us and it is precious. Among commentators of Torah, it has been observed that the blood of the Korban Pesach / Paschal Lamb set upon the doorposts of homes belonging to B’nai Yisrael, was akin to blood within the birth canal. This blood marked the birth of a people who would venture forth in freedom. It was a challenging and long process of birthing. As they departed from the confinement of human devaluation, we understand how these narrow straits (Mitzrayim / Egypt) were formative in the creation of an everlasting, psycho-spiritual resilience. With slavery was behind them, a bold and radical transition was underway with help from The Holy One of Blessing, Who literally created openings for B’nai Yisrael to pass through, from oppression into a state of perpetual self determination.
Whether your practice is to celebrate the festival of Passover for the Biblical seven days or eight days, as is custom for some in the Diaspora, the annual re-telling of our epic journey, as a people, is coming to an end. However, this process of becoming a Jew and an evolving Jewish community, continues to be renewed daily. Indeed, the powerful messages shared during this week of feasting with family and friends have “legs”, carrying them forward. We must always remember and never forget them.
For those of us fortunate enough to celebrate Passover in a free and diverse society, we must bring to mind others in our world today who are not enjoying these freedoms and do something to help them. Our tradition insists we are responsible for one another. Furthermore, we remain responsible to make our world a better place in any way we can. In doing so, we are called to truly see the divine soul of each person and we must see to it that compassion for others is reflected consistently in our daily lives, as we live out our days in thanksgiving. We emerge from the Passover Seders fresh with the knowledge that God has bestowed upon us many blessings. These blessings are to be generously shared, not hoarded.
…Raising our voices in thanksgiving.
To magnify faith
And practice acceptance.
To offer consolation
And to seek wisdom.
To become a well of healing,
A beacon of kindness,
A source of forgiveness,
A light of wonder and wisdom…
Alden Solovy (This Grateful Heart, 2017)
Shir haShirim/The Song of Songs is among the sacred texts read during the closing hours of Passover. An essential reason for this a potent, multi-sensory reminder is to see the beauty of another. We know all too well what happens when a person is devalued and diminished, made less than human. While The Song of Songs presents a love story about a man and a woman, it fundamentally teaches us about how to see another person, how to care for them in detail, how to demonstrate the value of another- whether they are near, or far from us.
Behold you are fair…
And you are without blemish…
Song of Songs 4:7
This treasured, sacred text insists upon the everlasting worth of a person and that person’s direct connection to something bigger, more grand and incredible, which we call God, in many names. In this act of deeply seeing, we are humbled by the Divine Presence.
As the festival of Passover concludes this year, please take this opportunity to count your blessings; renew your commitment to living a life infused with loving-kindness; attach yourself to the Jewish tradition of caring for others in selfless ways; and know that each day is an opportunity to vigorously explore your freedoms, solve problems with innovations and see the wonder in the world with beginner’s eyes.