Nirtzah

Haggadah Section: Nirtzah

Nirtzah is the conclusion of the Seder.  It is customary at this time to say the words "L'shanah haba'ah b'yerushalayim" which means "Next year in Jerusalem".  This was the dream of Jews all over the world for the last two thousand years.  It represented the idea that maybe, next year, we will make our pilgrimmage to Zion / Israel / the Promised Land / the land of milk and honey, with Jerusalem at its centre.  This pilgrimmage was also to a spiritual place of the same name.  In modern times, this isn't so difficult.  Any of us could jump on a plane and be there tomorrow for the Pesach holiday.  But, for some of us, there is a radical disconnect between Israel as a geographical and spiritual destination.  For some of us, Israel no longer represents a place to which, spiritually, we would want to go.

Thus, for anyone who wishes to be a contemporary Jew, it is that person's responsibility to add his or her voice to efforts to make of Israel a place to which all Jews would want to go and where all peoples would be welcome.  Perhaps, one day, that will be next year.

There is a well known story in the Talmud (Makkot 24b) featuring the famous Rabbi Akiva. He was traveling to Jerusalem with Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Eliezer ben Azariyah, two of his colleagues, when their pupils came and reminded them that it was time to say their prayers. Stopping on Mount Scopus, they looked towards the ruins of the Temple and saw foxes running around in the ruins. Rabbi Akiva's companions burst into tears at the sight, whereas he laughed with joy. “Why are you so happy?” asked his companions. Akiva replied that, just as the prophets foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, so had they foretold the rebuilding of it. The destruction has come to pass -- now it is time for the rebuilding.

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