Passover, more than any other one ritual or holiday, is a summary of Judaism. It follows the story of redemption from slavery in Egypt, the formative journey through the Sinai desert on the way to the land of Israel, and various encounters with God, culminating in the revelation of Torah. During the process, what has been a family and a tribal story becomes a national story: it is in leaving Egypt that we become the Jewish people.
On the first night of Passover, we gather together for a Seder to remember the history of the Jews. However, unlike on other holidays, we are not only commanded to hear the story of our ancestors, but to participate in the retelling. In doing so, we re-experience our enslavement and eventual emancipation.
The Seder, a feast involving opportunities for prayer and instruction, is a chance for us to share in giving thanks and for us to remember the blessing of our relationship with God. Perhaps the most important contribution of the Passover story to the Jewish narrative is the emphasis on unyielding hope in the face of adversity. In that spirit, Passover also focuses us on the coming spring and encourages us to welcome this new season of rebirth with faith and optimism.
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