Maror is the symbol of bitterness and slavery of the Israelites in Egypt. Today, in a Jewish community that is free, this bitterness takes on another layer of meaning: We acknowledge enslavement to to our own bad habits, discomforts and fears. Sometimes our own enslavement in past emotional bondage prevents us from being open to others in our lives. Our own singular negative experiences fuel prejudices that we attach to new people or experiences in our lives, preventing us from being open to present possibilities.
Charoset symbolizes the mortar of the bricks of the Israelites, but also represents the bonds of interdependence. In the Exodus tale, the Jews would never have been saved without the help of others, from Pharoah's daughter Batya, to the Pharoah's midwives Shifra and Puah, and even God. Thanks to the understanding and respect for humanity shown by these women, the lives of the Jewish people were forever altered.
Today, we face an evolving world. The composite of our country is changing as people from countries near and far arrive seeking independence from social, economic and political oppression. Racial and gender barriers are disintegrating as people of all colors and creeds find love and friendship between one another. The traditional roles of women and men have shifted as our workplaces and homes begin to suit our needs, not our genders. Yet many cling to the past in fear, blind to the advantages change can bring to this new world. But just as our tongues would suffer against the bitterness of maror without charoset, so would we suffer without the exposure to new people, places and ideas in our lives.
Take a look around the table tonight, and note the mix of races, genders, faiths and traditions that sit together at this Seder. This moment is but a small snapshot of what connectedness can offer: learning, understanding, sharing and respect for others. This shared experience reinforces the message that -- regardless of history and our past experiences -- we have the ability to move forward and come together. Let us go out and share this experience with others in the hope that we can inspire similar connections with the rest of the world.
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