The Glory of Pesach

Source
Foundation for Family Education, Inc.

(From United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism collected materials by Rabbi Moshe Edelman) All three Pilgrim festivals (Pesach, Shavuot and Succot) contain  elements which make of them complete joyous occasions.  However, it is Pesach, more than the others, which combines all elements into a most harmonious and soul-satisfying whole. Pesach is a festival of the head.  It calls upon the Jew to meditate on the ideal of freedom.  It transports you back in history to the period of bondage in Egypt and it asks that you put yourself in the place of your ancestors who were released from Pharaoh’s yoke.  It is not enough to regard the Exodus as history.  “In every generation a person is obliged to regard oneself as if you had left the land of Egypt. To translate Pesach into contemporary terms is one of the elements of the festival. Pesach is a festival of the heart.  It calls upon us to rejoice, to feel the presence of God as the source of human happiness.  The Seder, with its song and rites, with the objects to delight children and the ease to relax adults, join in producing a feeling of well-being.  The observance of Pesach is not a solemn ceremony but a delightful celebration. Pesach is a festival of hand.  Before it arrives, the Jew is asked to give what is called “Maot Chittim,” money to provide for those in need of Matzot and other food for the festival.  When the holiday actually arrives, we usher it in, at the very outset, by saying “Let all who are hungry come and eat with us.”  The spirit of hospitality dominates the festival, and the concern if the Jews is turned to our fellow man.  But it is not a vague feeling of sympathy and concern of  others which fills us.  It is the act of giving, of extending one’s hand to the needy that is an essential element of our celebration.  For a least one week of the year, we remove the leaven of selfishness from our lives and we want to share life’s blessing with others. Pesach is the festival of the head, the heart and the hand - an ideal combination for producing the wholeness, the integration, which religion should bring.