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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!
We are free, but we remember when we were slaves. We are whole, but we bring to mind those who are broken. The middle matzah is broken, but it is the larger part which is hidden. Because the future will be greater than the past, and tomorrow’s Passover nobler than yesterday’s exodus. The prospects for the dreamed future are overwhelming to the point of making us mute. So it is in silence, without blessing, that we...
Our sages took some pains to ensure a Jewish calendar in which Pesach would always fall in the spring. (They were operating in a northern hemisphere context; I don’t think the challenges of antipodean Judaism ever occurred to them.) In the northern hemisphere, Pesach is inextricably connected with spring.
As the earth shakes off the constrictions of winter, her frozen places thawing, so we remember our...
This song was written to be part of Fiddler on the Roof, but was cut from the show before it made its Broadway debut for being too slow, and comic at a moment in the show when the people of Anatevka are experiencing tragedy. It imagines a world in which the Messiah is coming, but lost, and worried about us.
Words and music by Sheldon Harnick
When Messiah comes he will say to us,
“I apologize that I...
Pesach is many things to many people. Its customs are familiar and can be viewed with many lenses. The symbols are universal and are subject to almost any reading: social justice, class, the Holocaust, Middle East politics, American politics, agriculture, the environment, the list is endless, and the proliferation of interpretations is evidence that this is fertile territory.
A few things – maybe only two –...
By Rabbi & Dina Brewer
Dayeinu is a highly counter-intuitive hymn.
Among its fourteen stanzas it proclaims that:
Had God taken our ancestors out of Egypt, but not rescued them at the Red Sea, it would have been sufficient.
And had God rescued them at the Red Sea, but not nourished them in the dessert, it would have been sufficient.
And had God brought...
no one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.
you only run for the border when you see the whole city running as well.
no one would leave home unless home chased you, fire under feet, hot blood in your belly.
it's not something you ever thought about doing, and so when you did - you carried the anthem under your breath, waiting until the airport toilet to tear up the passport and swallow,...
We’ve been bound by a hardened heart
And our inability to see ourselves in each other.
We have been puffed up by ego and pride.
Enslaved by how things have always been.
And now it is time to go.
But fear threatens to paralyze.
How can we possibly exist any other way?
Our imagination falters
The attachment to what we know is so great
It doesn’t matter that it...
The Generous Child
The generous child knows all about food justice and donates much of their monthly allowance to charity. This child encourages their parents to volunteer, brings the most cans in during school food drives, and never eats too much.
The Spoiled Child
The spoiled child knows and understands food justice, but chooses not to care. This child is selfish, easily upset by not...
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...
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...