The Four Sons
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The Four Sons
By a fitting answer to the questions of each of the four types of the sons of Israel, does the Torah explain the meaning of this night's celebration.
The wise son eager to learn asks earnestly: "What mean the testimonies and the statutes and the ordinances, which the Lord our God hath commanded us?" To him thou shalt say: "This service is held in order to worship the Lord our God, that it may be well with us all the days of our life".
The wicked son inquires in a mocking spirit: "What mean ye by this service?" As he says ye and not we, he excludes himself from the household of Israel. Therefore thou shouldst turn on him and say: "It is because of that which the Lord did for me when I came forth out of Egypt". For me and not for him, for had he been there, he would not have been found worthy of being redeemed.
The simple son indifferently asks: "What is this?" To him thou shalt say: "By strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage".
And for the son who is unable to inquire, thou shalt explain the whole story of the Passover; as it is said: "And thou shalt tell thy son in that day, saying 'It is because of that which the Lord did for me when I came forth out of Egypt'".
This symbolic washing of the hands recalls the story of Miriam's Well. Legend tells us that this well followed Miriam, sister of Moses, through the desert, sustaining the Jews in their wanderings. Filled with mayim chayim, waters of life, the well was a source of strength and renewal to all who drew from it. One drink from its waters was said to alert the heart, mind and soul, and make the meaning of Torah become...
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The MaNishtana traditionally asks us, “What is unique or different about tonight?” and, “Why do we eat Matzah, why do we dip and eat Bitter Herbs not just once, but twiceand why do we recline?” These elements are symbolic themes that mirror the reflection our ancestor’s liberation from slavery, the hardships they experienced and theoppression that infringed on their freedoms. Tonight at our GLBT Passover Seder...
The Passover Haggadah recounts ten plagues that afflicted Egyptian society. In our tradition, Passover is the season in which we imagine our own lives within the story and the story within our lives. Accordingly, we turn our thoughts to the many plagues affecting our society today. Our journey from slavery to redemption is ongoing, demanding the work of our hearts and hands. Here are ten “modern plagues”:
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Around our tables sit four daughters:
The wise daughter understands that not everything is as it appears. She is the one who speaks up, confident that her opinion counts. She is the one who can take the tradition and ritual that is placed before her, turn it over and over, and find personal meaning in it. She is the one who can find the secrets in the empty spaces between the letters...
Jews from Spain, Italy, Sicily, Morocco, Tunisia, and Sardinia would bring the Seder plate to the table with ceremony. Sometimes, they would cover it with a nice scarf and sing as it arrived to the table. They would pass it from person to person around the table, and place it on each head for a moment. This demonstrates that we were once slaves in Egypt and carried heavy burdens on our heads. In...
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The Leader of the Seder only, now washes his/her hands from an ewer into a bowl held
by another celebrant, wiping them dry on a hand towel. We have accepted the need for
leadership, we wash the leaders's hands. This small, formal act of service is a symbol of
our recognition of their leadership. This is an ancient Jewish...
At Passover, we are confronted with the stories of our ancestors’ pursuit of liberation from oppression. Facing this mirror of history, how do we answer their challenge? How do we answer our children when they ask us how to pursue justice in our time?
What does the Activist Child ask?
“The Torah tells me, ‘Justice, justice shall you pursue,’ but how can I pursue justice?”
I grew up in an irreligious home. We rarely belonged to a Temple (Synagogue was too traditional) and attending a service was even rarer. When we did go to temple you would never a yarmulke except on the Rabbi & Cantor (sometimes). The only tallitot were these little vest things that the clergy wore. The only Hebrew was the Sh'ma, the Torah/Haftarah readings and the Mourner's Kaddish (which is really...