Rabbi Soloveitchik taught that man is the only creature to experience time, to feel its passage and to sense its movement.God demands that we learn to master time, to have “time awareness.” By choosing how to use our moments properly, by investing those moments with quality and significance, we break our “servitude” to time and become its masters. Critical to this task, maintains Rabbi Soloveitchik, is the recognition of three dimensions of time, each of which is an aspect of the experience of time: RETROSPECTION refers to one’s ability to re-experience the past, to feel deeply that which is only a memory, and to transport an event from the distant past into a “creative living experience” in the present. ANTICIPATION is our projection of visions and aspirations into the future. Indeed, one’s present life is regulated in expectation of the fulfillment of these dreams. The present is shaped by our vision of the future. Retrospection and anticipation are significant only insofar as they transform the present. In every fraction of a second, Visions can be realized or destroyed. APPRECIATION embraces the present as a precious possession, as inherently worthy. The Haggadah incorporates all three elements of time into the Seder experience.
(A) RETROSPECTION - If there is no retrospection there can be no mitzvah of retelling the story of the Exodus from Egypt. The Seder itself is a recreation and reliving of the past as a present reality.
(B) ANTICIPATION - In anticipation we move from reminiscing to expectation, from memories to vision. Anticipation gives us the impetus and the moral imperative to act in order to realize a vision for the future. The Haggadah opens with Avadim hayinu, “we were slaves” (retrospection), and it concludes with the Cup of Elijah and Nishmat kol chai, which expresses anticipation and our vision for our future.
(C) APPRECIATION - The third aspect compels us to value the present and appreciate the special gift of the moment. The Kiddush recited on the first cup of wine at the Seder declares the sanctity of the moment. The Shehecheyanu, the blessing we recite at the conclusion of Kiddush, thanks God for allowing us to reach this special time in our lives and to appreciate the moment.
By incorporating Retrospection, Anticipation, and Appreciation at the Seder we learn the lesson of merging past, present, and future within all of life’s moments.
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