Maggid: Rabban Gamliel
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Maggid: Rabban Gamliel
Rabban Gamliel says that anyone who has not discussed three central symbols has not fulfilled the obligation of the seder. These are the Passover lamb, Pesach in Hebrew, representing freedom; matzah, representing poverty; and bitter herbs, maror in Hebrew, representing suffering.
I have been out of jail [in Israel] for a few weeks now. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate my freedom after what I have been through. I take nothing for granted…My only wish is to remain free. Please, just leave me my freedom and let me live my life in peace.—Testimony of an anonymous refugee from Eritrea
When we reached Sinai, our traffickers raised the bounty, demanding that our families pay $30,000 each… I now work in a big house and do whatever is asked of me…I work 10 hours a day, six days a week, earning $71 per day…What is most important to me now is paying off my debt. My family borrowed money from so many people to secure my freedom from the torture camp in Sinai, money that needs to be repaid.—Testimony of an anonymous refugee from Eritrea.
The Israeli government has imposed restrictions making it difficult for asylum seekers to work, so paying back these debts while paying for food and shelter is an extraordinary challenge.
Many among us were tortured…in Sinai. When we reached this democratic State of Israel, we didn’t expect such harsh punishment in prison...We lost all hope and became frustrated by this situation, so that we ask you to either provide us with a solution or send us to our country, no matter what will happen to us, even if we have to endure [the] death penalty by the Eritrean regime.—Testimony of an anonymous refugee from Eritrea
At the end of the seder, it is traditional to say or sing " Next Year in Jerusalem". We sometimes think of this as a literal wish, though far fewer of us have actually found ourselves in Jerusalem for seder the following year -- congratulations if you have!
But Jerusalem is more than a place, it is a feeling, it is a hope. At this point in the seder, 1/2 or 1/4 sheets of paper should be passed around...
Jill Levore's book Ghettoside argues that black boys are being murdered by their peers and their murders are being ignored by the police. In following the stories of a few victims in LA she finds the good cops among the indifferent and explores how a distrust in the police and a disbelief that the police would work for the community leaves disaster in its wake.
The Pesach story begins in a broken world, amidst slavery and oppression. The sound of the breaking of the matza sends us into that fractured existence, only to become whole again when we find the broken half, the afikoman, at the end of the Seder.
This brokenness is not just a physical or political situation: It reminds us of all those hard, damaged places within ourselves. All those narrow places from which we...
ALL: Tonight we might have put an oyster on our Seder plate.
While I didn’t particularly want to put something traif atop that most kosher of dishes, this Passover falls on the first anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. And since BP, the leaseholder of the failed well, seems intent with its new television ads...
We all carry around ideas and images of reality, frequently garnered from other people or from courses we have taken, books we have read, or from television, the radio, newspapers, the culture in general, which give us pictures of how things are and what is occurring. As a result, we often see our thoughts, or someone else's, instead of seeing what is right in front of us or inside of us. Often, we don't even bother to...
The beginning of the seder seems strange. We start with kiddush as we normally would when we begin any festive meal. Then we wash, but without a blessing, and break bread without eating it.
What’s going on here?
It seems that the beginning of the seder is kind of a false start. We act as if we are going to begin the meal but then we realize that we can’t – we...
“Gratitude is the moral memory of mankind. If every grateful action were suddenly eliminated, society would crumble.”
– Georg Simmel
Gratitude and happiness are intertwined and for good reason. It is no coincidence that positive psychology practitioners and happiness experts state that in order to increase your contentment in life you need to boost your level of...
Passover is a time for us to reflect on our own freedom and an opportunity to connect our lives with the struggles of others. At AVODAH, we support emerging Jewish leaders as they work to address some of the most pressing issues in the fight against poverty. We study the complex (and often overlapping) systemic issues that impact people in our country, and explore how Jewish tradition calls on us to respond. This year,...
The seder plate holds the main symbols of a traditional Passover seder-- the shank bone, egg, karpas, charoset, and maror. The Kabbalists of the Middle Ages added hazeret, another kind of bitter lettuce. And in recent years feminists have added an orange on the seder plate to symbolize women's leadership roles and full empowerment in Jewish life.
The artichoke however is a new development. What is an artichoke?...
There have been many suggestions as to Judaism's most fundamental concept. Here's my candidate: In each and every generation, each of us must see ourselves as if we left Mitzrayim.
Rav Kook says each of us took something from that experience that the world needs before it can be fully redeemed. Our father Abraham knew well how to argue with God, but he didn't argue when told his descendants would be slaves for...
More Clips from Truah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Hamotzi thanks God for bringing bread from the earth. This bread results from a partnership between God and humanity: God provides the raw materials and people harvest, grind, and bake. So too must we remember that combating human trafficking requires partnerships: among survivors, allies, lawyers, social workers, law enforcement, diplomats, people of faith…the circles of involvement are...
Our hands were touched by this water earlier during tonight's seder, but this time is different. This is a deeper step than that. This act of washing our hands is accompanied by a blessing, for in this moment we feel our People's story more viscerally, having just retold it during Maggid. Now, having re-experienced the majesty of the Jewish journey from degradation to dignity, we raise our hands in holiness, remembering...
The beauty of Urchatz was revealed to me during a women's seder. Each participant washed the hands of another with care and kavanah (intentionality)—and without words. The sisterhood created in the sacred silence elevates communal consciousness. How will we utilize this state of purity? V'ahavtah l're'echa kamochah - to love the other as ourself.
How will this ancient wisdom propel us...