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Hesed is often translated as loving-kindness. There are times when we are aware of God's loving-kindness towards us. Hesed is also a gift we receive from other beings, and which we can give to them. Recall some of the acts of hesed that you experienced, and in which you have engaged, since the death of your loved one.
Why is there no orange on our Seder plate?
In the early 1980s, while speaking at Oberlin College Hillel, Susannah Heschel was introduced to an early feminist Haggadah that suggested adding a crust of bread on the Seder plate, as a sign of solidarity with Jewish lesbians (there's as much room for a lesbian in Judaism as there is for a crust of bread on the seder plate). Heschel felt that to put...
"Let All Who Are Hungry"
We are wired to give.
One of the worst feelings in the world is not being needed by others.
I once asked a group of high school kids: "When was the last time you felt really good about yourselves?" Each responded by sharing an act of kindness and selfless giving.
But a slave has nothing to offer. Drained of energy...
The Four Cups of the Seder are structurally connected to the four verbal performances this evening:
(1) Kiddush, sanctifying the holiday
(2) Maggid, the storytelling
(3) Birkat HaMazon, completing the Pesach meal; and
(4) Hallel, completing the festival Psalms.
The Talmud connects the Four Cups to God's Four Promises to Israel: "Tell the children of...
Our tradition speaks of four children or four attitudes: the wise child, the wicked child, the simple child, and the one who does not know how to ask. Each child has a different reaction to hearing about slavery. . .
What does the wise child say? “What are the testimonies, the statutes, and the laws that apply to this situation? How are we to discern what God demands of us?” You are to answer...
Korech: Mixing the Bitter and the Sweet
One of my favorite moments of the seder comes just before dinner is served. It is called Korech. It is also known as the Hillel sandwich. It is the moment when we eat maror (the bitter herbs) and the charoset (the sweet apple and nut mixture) on a piece of matzah. What a strange custom to eat something so bitter and something so sweet all in one bite. I...
The Passover story is most often associated with the leadership of Moses, but in fact the cycle of protest that culminated in the Exodus from Egypt began with the courageous acts of two women who disobeyed Pharaoh’s decree to murder all Hebrew male babies born in Egypt. These women, Shifra and Puah, practiced a bold and noteworthy profession—midwifery. It was their commitment to preserving human life and their...
There have been many suggestions as to Judaism's most fundamental concept. Here's my candidate: In each and every generation, each of us must see ourselves as if we left Mitzrayim.
Rav Kook says each of us took something from that experience that the world needs before it can be fully redeemed. Our father Abraham knew well how to argue with God, but he didn't argue when told his descendants would be slaves for...
by Joshua Ratner, Rabbis Without Borders
One of my favorite parts of the Passover seder is the singing that takes place after we finish eating. There are so many great, fun songs, from “Ehad Mi Yodeah” to "Chad Gadya."Perhaps my favorite song is “Dayenu.” The words are fairly easy to sing in Hebrew, and the chorus is so catchy that even those who don’t know Hebrew can easily join in. But beyond its...
More Clips from Kalsman Institute
The seder ritual seems to have it backward: One would think that we should eat the maror first, just as the bitter slavery preceded the liberation. But in truth, our chronology is not so simple. We need to have tasted freedom to really understand oppression. Maybe the lingering aftertaste of the matza can help see us through suffering and oppression. So it is, that the love we shared with our...
Finding and Eating the Afikoman
In hiding and seeking the afikoman, we reunite the two parts separated at the beginning of the seder. At this moment, we have the opportunity to discover lost parts of ourselves, to become reconciled with relatives who have become distant and to find wholeness in aspects of Judaism which may not have been part of our...