Nirtzah marks the conclusion of the seder. Our bellies are full, we have had several glasses of wine, we have told stories and sung songs, and now it is time for the evening to come to a close. At the end of the seder, we honor the tradition of declaring, “Next year in Jerusalem!”
This year, I'd like to finish with the story of Inky, the octopus. Inky, like all creatures great and small has an instinctual drive to be free and to fulfill his destiny. Inky made a decision, or perhaps heard a call from a higher power to escape the comfy but constraining confines of his tank at the National Aquarium of New Zealand and is at large somewhere in Hawke's Bay, on the east coast of New Zealand's north island.
Near as experts can figure from his splotchy tracks, Mr. Inky squeezed through a slight gap at the top of his tank, flopped to the floor, then slithered about eight feet overland to slide down a drainpipe more than 160 feet long, and finally to plop into the bay.
Like the Israelites who risked death by drowning when they crossed the red sea, Inky risked death by, well whatever the opposite of drowning is for cephalopod molluscs.
Alix Harvey, an aquarist at Britain's Marine Biological Association, told the New York Times, "Octopuses are fantastic escape artists." But here's where I disagree with Mr. Harvey when he states, "We should be careful not to project human traits onto octopuses." Inky chose to bolt from surroundings in which he was safe, secure, and hand fed, for the dangers of an open sea that teems sharks, seals, and whales that might eat him. Inky chose liberty over security.
The end of this seder, also marks a beginning. We are beginning the next season with a renewed awareness of the freedoms we enjoy and the obstacles we must still confront. We are looking forward to the time that we gather together again. Having retold stories, recalled historic movements of liberation, and reflected on the struggles people still face for freedom and equality, we are ready to embark on a year that we hope will bring positive change in the world and freedom to people everywhere.
And since the laws of Kashrut prohibit eating Octopi, perhaps this year, we can include Inky in our declarations.
NEXT YEAR IN THE OPEN OCEAN!
לְשָׁנָה הַבָּאָה בִּירוּשָׁלָֽיִם
L’shana haba-ah biy’rushalayim
NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM!
NEXT YEAR MAY BE ALL BE FREE!
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