The first Seder in its modern form was conducted on the road into Babylonian exile some
2500 years ago. We had reached the nadir of our resources. Our homes were wrecked,
our families torn apart, we had been stripped of all our pride. Nebuchadnezar was
uprooting whole peoples, dispersing an entire Jewish population, dragging us into
slavery. Bondage seemed to dog our steps, it was history repeating itself. We felt
Our leaders however, made us aware in our despair that this was not a repetition of the
Egyptian story. In tents open to weary travelers they prepared a seder. Inviting anyone
who cared to join, they prepared the Seder we are following now.
The experience, hope and faith we had acquired since leaving Egypt they shared with us
then on the road. They showed us, using the symbols on the Seder plate how different
were the circumstances of our present from our past. In Egypt we had no plans for a
future. Now we had tools to fashion the raw material of our lives into a journey of the
spirit. They taught us that we had the right to refuse the mythology of all propaganda. We
can give them the lie to their faces. For we are free people, we have the choices to choose
and to change, we cannot be enslaved without our consent.
So we begin our recitation with an invitation in the dialect of common man. The Aramaic
tongue was for thousands of years the Yiddish language of diaspora Jews. As English is
to the reader of this Haggadah, was the Ha-Lachma-Anya of yesteryear. "
This then is bread of poverty that our fathers ate in the land of Egypt....."
Lest there be those amongst us who feel trapped in the present, enslaved to a substance or
destructive behavior. The message is crystal clear: We have been there and this is our
There is an interesting play on words, and a hint implicit in the text of the invitation. First
and foremost, we have to hunger for the miracle to happen in our life. We have to want it
more than anything. Only then, the Haggadah tells us, All who need may come and
celebrate Pesach. You can have it if you want it. Do you want it? Needing it is just not enough.
Are you ready to go to any lengths?
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