At this point in the seder, we traditionally call on our youngest member to pose the Four Questions. These questions remind us to reflect on the very process of questioning and remembering why it is we do things as we have done them for so long. We take stock of the status quo, of our daily habits and rituals. As our youngest leads us in this process of reflection, we must look back into ourselves to question our own habits.
In addition to asking ourselves why it is we always eat leavened bread, we may ask what happens when water shortages cause a global agricultural crisis, the very source of this bread? We must continue to ask ourselves about our habitual dependence on fossil fuels. We must remember all that we take for granted every single day: healthy food, reliable electricity, moderate weather, safe homes, beautiful landscapes, and unflooded shorelines.
We must remember, as we deviate from our everyday customs on this special night, that not every person has the ability to sustain what we consider to be norms every day; they may not have access to vegetables-- bitter or otherwise-- or have tables where they can sit or recline, nor a stable roof over their heads.
The importance of questioning is to always make anew the questions we ask. We ask the same questions but with renewed understanding. And we ask new questions, while recognizing that the way things have become is perhaps not the way things once were, not like the stories of Moses, or even the way things were 25 years ago when our global temperature had only increased by 1.4 degrees in the past 150 years. We recognize that the circumstances have changed, but we are still struggling to understand our place within the earth that we have impacted as a human race, and as Jews--for better or for worse. We take this time being together to remember how it is we will use our collective wisdom to bring light to the problems we face in this world, by asking the questions of our ancestors and understanding in this time what the answers mean.
Why is this night different from all other nights?
Ma nishtana halayla hazeh mikol haleylot
ַמה ִנְשַתָנה ַהַלְיָלה ַהֶזה ִמָכל ַהֵלילוֹת?
[Why] on all other nights [do] we eat leavened bread and matza, [but] on this night, only matza?
Shebechol haleylot anu ochlin chametz u matzah, halayla hazeh kulo matza?
ֶש ְבּ ָכל ַה ֵלילוֹת ָאנוּ אוֹ ְכ ִלין ָח ֵמץ וּ ַמ ָצה, ַה ַל ְי ָלה ַה ֶזה - ֻכלוֹ ַמ ָצה?
[Why] on all other nights [do] we eat all kinds of vegetables, [but] on this night, bitter herbs?
Shebchol haleylot anu ochlin she’ar yerakot, halayla hazeh maror?
ֶש ְבּ ָכל ַה ֵלילוֹת ָאנוּ אוֹ ְכ ִלין ְש ָאר ְיָרקוֹת, - ַה ַלְי ָלה ַהֶזה ָמרוֹר?
[Why] on all other nights we do not dip even once, [but] on this night [we dip] twice?
Shebechol haleylot ein anu matbilin afilu pa'am echat, halayla hazeh sh'tei pe’amim?
ֶשְבּ ָכל ַהֵלילוֹת ֵאין ָאנוּ ַמ ְטִבּיִלין ֲא ִפילוּ ַפ ַעם ֶא ָחת, - ַהַלְיָלה ַהֶזה ְשֵתי ְפ ָע ִמים?
[Why] on all other nights [do] we eat sitting or reclining, [but] on this night, everyone reclines?
Shebechol haleylot anu ochlin bein yoshvin uvein mesubin,halayla hazeh kulanu mesubin?
ֶש ְבּ ָכל ַה ֵלילוֹת ָאנוּ אוֹ ְכ ִלין ֵבּין יוֹ ְש ִבין וּ ֵבין ְמ ֻס ִבּין, - ַה ַל ְי ָלה ַה ֶזה ֻכ ָלנוּ ְמ ֻס ִבּין?
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