This is the end. Now we pause and reflect on our experience. We have taken our steps out of Egypt, out of oppression and towards freedom. We realize although we are no longer slaves, there is still a long way to go. The last prayer echoes our hope for G-d to heal our broken world, that the promise for a world of peace becomes a reality. Every year, we sing:
לְשָׁנָה הַבָּאָה בִּירוּשָׁלָֽיִם
L’shana haba-ah biy’rushalayim
NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM!
The Jewish story can be summed up as our long journey from Egypt to Jerusalem. This is not just our history, but our memory, as a people. “Next year” encapsulates that continuing flicker of hope that has sustained Jews for centuries past in the midst of despair, persecution and exile.
But beyond being geographical locations, they can also symbolize an odyssey between two opposite spiritual states. The Hebrew name for Egypt is Mitzrayim, which means limitations, restrictions. Jerusalem means “city of peace”—a place of peace between body and soul, heaven and earth, and all peoples. And so, as long as there remains suffering and injustice in the world, we haven’t reached the Promised Land. It is the purpose of the holidays to wake us up to our true capacities, to release the deeper ethical components of what it means to be a human being.
Redemption is not an abstract concept, but an action: the fine-tuning of the human soul to help us love more and be more sensitive to others. When we take upon the challenge of the true meaning of passover—to embody empathy, to love the stranger and to rebuild the world in the image of peace—we are in Jerusalem.
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