Text By Rabbi Hayley Goldstein
A Midrash in the Talmud teaches us that when the Israelites had crossed the Sea, having transitioned from slavery to freedom, from constriction to the expanse of the wilderness, the Angels wanted to sing a song of praise and gratitude. The Egyptians had followed behind them and were swallowed up by the waters of the sea. In response, the Holy One answered,
מעשה ידי טובעין בים ואתם אומרים שירה לפני
The work of my hands is drowning in the sea, and you are reciting a song before me?
In G!d’s rhetorical response, G!d is reminding the angels, and perhaps us, that there is danger in celebration in the face of grief. To celebrate freely without first acknowledging the pain and loss they had just witnessed, even the loss of their enemies, was to deny the truth of the moment. This year, as we celebrate Passover, spend some time honoring those who did not make it to this year’s Seder. Through acknowledging the grief, we may even be able to celebrate in a deeper way, being true to this moment and the fullness of our experience.
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