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All night long we have been reliving the story of the Exodus, striving to awaken our present consciousness to redemption. Moments ago the wave of the past finally broke over us, sweeping away the boundary between then and now as we burst into the praises of Hallel. Redemption was transformed from a story about our ancestors into the here and now and given life through our song. But in the midst of our excitement, a question arises. The past is gone forever, and as deep as our present joy may be, it is fleeting. Where is this feeling of freedom taking us?
Now is the time to know that our service tonight has found favor in the eyes of the Redeemer. Nirtzah is not a prayer which attempts to fix what was, or even a joyful offering to God of what has just come to be. Nirtzah is an assertion of hope. It is the confidence that the true fruit of our service tonight will be a redeemed future. The power of Nirtzah lies in our knowledge that we have succeeded in telling a story of our past which now infuses our present with joy. And that our rejoicing in freedom has planted within us the seeds of our future. May our present joy become the fertile ground out of which a truly redeemed future will grow − l’shana haba’ah b’Yerushalayim habenuyah! Next year in the Jerusalem of which we dream!
“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...
"A Not-So-Serious Passover Play for the Classroom or the Dining Room" by S. Mitchell
CHARACTERS: Slave Narrator, G_d (as a voice offstage), Moses, Aaron, Burning Bush, Pharoah
SLAVE NARRATOR: In Egypt we Hebrews had a difficult life. All day we worked under the whips of the taskmasters, making bricks and stacking them into giant pyramids, using nothing but our bare hands and a mixture of apples, raisins...
By: Rabbi Ari Weiss At the close of the Haggadah, after moving from past humiliations to future hopes, a surprise! A piyut, or liturgical poem, first quoted in Sefer Rokeach (1160-1238), that returns to the Haggadic theme of retribution but on a deeper, more fundamental register. Nature is a "war of all against all." The cat that attacks is attacked just as the Egyptians who oppressed are oppressed....
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...
The orange on our seder plate is a symbol of "the fruitfulness for all Jews when lesbians and gay men are contributing and active members of Jewish life. In addition, each orange segment had a few seeds that had to be spit out - a gesture of spitting out, repudiating the homophobia that poisons too many Jews."
This is a compilation of ideas to help the seder be fun and engaging for the entire family.
Fun ideas for preparing the Passover table:
1. Include a Tzedakka box on the table. Have everyone put money in the tzedakah box before eating.
2. Yemenite Jews line the edge of the table all around with leaves of Romaine lettuce. The lettuce is then used for Maror....
On Passover, the Jewish community asks ourselves, friends, family and neighbors, What makes this night different from all other nights? Four Jewish racial justice leaders shared their answers.
"As Jews, we remember and we cannot let injustice happen again in this country. This is our moment to bend the moral arc and to move racial justice work forward through advocacy, activism, and engagement." --...
Is matzo poor man's bread or the food of free men? Can it be both? If we regard it as the Bread of Affliction why did we carry dough on our backs out of Egypt, to let it bake in the hot sun without leavening and rising? Can one Matzo be both a symbol of wretchedness and deliverance?
Matzo is a paradox.
Not only is it so, but in breaking the middle matzo we also break with symmetry. There is...
I write this year’s Prologue as Israel is going to the polls to decide whether to replace its present right-wing prime minister with the Zionist Union, a center-left political alliance. Whatever the outcome, chances are that Israel’s recent history of fractured politics and short-lived coalitions will probably continue. But why am I writing about Israel? you might ask. Aren’t there enough issues here at home for...
More Clips from Pardes
All night long we have been reliving the story of the Exodus, striving to awaken our present consciousness to redemption. Moments ago the wave of the past finally broke over us, sweeping away the boundary between then and now as we burst into the praises of Hallel. Redemption was transformed from a story about our ancestors into the here and now and given life through our song. But in the midst of our excitement, a...
Praising as a spiritual practice
How is this Hallel on seder night different from all other Hallels?
What are we aiming to accomplish in this Hallel of seder night?
Unlike every other holiday Hallel, the Hallel of the seder (and in synagogue) is sung at night. Unlike other Hallels, it is sung without an introductory blessing, and it is recited sitting down. Unlike every other Hallel, this Hallel is...
Immediately following birkat hamazon (grace after meals) we drink the third of four cups of wine. We pour the fourth cup which will be for the upcoming completion of Hallel. We also pour a fifth cup that is situated in the middle of the table called Kos Shel Eliyahu (Elijah’s Cup).
This cup is left undrunk until such time as the halakhic question is answered: Do the Jews in Israel drink the fifth cup which...