The seder ends in an outburst of longing, and it is a longing for home. No matter where we are, the chances are that we feel displaced. No strangers to estrangement, we carry a homesickness from place to place.

Somewhere on earth will feel like home. We will know it down to its homeliest details, and that knowledge will seep through and calm our restlessness, for what was that restlessness but a dream of coming home?

Next year in Jerusalem! we sing, from our places scattered around the globe, including the city of Jerusalem itself. And we will sing it year after year, no matter how history disposes of us, just so long as we are still around. Proust wrote, "There is no paradise but paradise lost." The Jerusalem with which we end the seder is a place in Proustian dreamscape, only designated not by the ache of loss but the ache of longing.

And if Jerusalem is a metaphor, so, too, is Egypt. Egypt is here and now, using the most persuasive of means--the fact of reality itself--to make us sink into its presence and forget the boundaries we had meant to cross.

The Haggadah's tale is about a family who swell into something more. Voluntary strangers, they became involuntary slaves and finally head out into the unknown, driven by their longing to go home. None of them would ever reach that home, not even Moses.

Next year in Jerusalem, we say, and the words send us out into the night with our desires stoked, our contentment cooled.

We are slaves without our longings.

haggadah Section: Nirtzah
Source: The New American Haggadah