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Together as we wash our hands, they move into the bowl of water, and back out of the water. Why do we do this? Are our hands really getting clean without soap? We won’t be eating for some time, why do we do this so early?
The washing of our hands suggests that we are open to question. One question that is always asked is about hope.
Rick Recht answers in his song:
This is the hope that holds us together, Hatikvah, the hope that will last forever, the hope is still real.
From the Diaspora, to the exodus, to the holocaust, to war, to independence, to more wars, to threats, bombing, and peace, Israelis never give up hope. We are strong people because we have hope. And the hope holds us together. That’s why the Israeli National Anthem is Hatikvah, because that means hope.
Over the years, the Passover story has evolved from a story just about Moses and Aaron to include their female counterparts. We set aside a cup of water for Miriam, celebrate Shifrah and Puah for their act of bravery and comment on Pharaoh’s daughter’s defiant move. As we commemorate the leadership of matriarchs in the Exodus story, the questions about our contemporary relationship to women’s rights and liberation...
Is matzo poor man's bread or the food of free men? Can it be both? If we regard it as the Bread of Affliction why did we carry dough on our backs out of Egypt, to let it bake in the hot sun without leavening and rising? Can one Matzo be both a symbol of wretchedness and deliverance?
Matzo is a paradox.
Not only is it so, but in breaking the middle matzo we also break with symmetry. There is...
Passover combines the celebration of an event from Jewish memory with a recognition of the cycles of nature. As we remember the liberation from Egypt, we also recognize the stirrings of spring and rebirth happening in the world around us. The symbols on our table bring together elements of both kinds of celebration.
We now take a vegetable, in this case parsely, to represent our joy at the dawning of spring after...
On all other nights, we get biscuits and rolls,
Fluffy and puffy and full of air holes.
Why on this night, why, tell me why,
Only this flat stuff that’s always so dry.
On all other nights, we eat all kinds of greens,
And I’m starting to like them – except lima beans.
Why on this night, I ask on my knees,
Do we eat stuff so bitter it makes grownups ...
Tonight we drink four cups of wine. Why four? Some say the cups represent our matriarchs—Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah—whose virtue caused God to liberate us from slavery. Another interpretation is that the cups represent the Four Worlds: physicality, emotions, thought, and essence. Still a third interpretation is that the cups represent the four promises of liberation God makes in the Torah: I will bring you...
Not Just Handwashing
Ask for two volunteers: one to carry a pitcher of water and to pour water over each guest’s hands, and one to carry a basin and a towel.
Use ice water to remember people who do not have warm water.
Have everyone take off their bracelets and rings, even wedding bands for the handwashing (or for the whole seder, to be returned when the afikomen is found) to...
Four Cups Of Wine
Many people wonder why we drink four cups of wine on Passover. Well there are many reasons. First of all wine is a royal drink that symbolises freedom. So it seems appropriate to drink it on Passover because they became free. Also g-d convinced the Jews that they should leave Egypt using four statements, 1 I shall take you out, 2 I shall rescue you, 3 I shall redeem you, and 4 I shall...
With the second cup of wine we remember God’s promise to save the Israelites from the forced labor of the Egyptian taskmasters. With this cup we turn our thoughts to those in our community who have been forced back into the underground economy. We think about the returning citizens among us who so desire a fresh start and a family- sustaining job, but who are forced by society’s discrimination...
This piece was written by Rabbi Elliot Kukla, the first out transgender rabbi. He was ordained in 2006 at HUC-JIR’s Los Angeles campus, and now works as a chaplain at the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center.
A few years ago at Kol Nidre I delivered a sermon on the power of diversity to my congregation in Toronto. Afterwards, in the swirling crowd I felt someone tug at my jacket. I turned around to find a...
All Who Are Hungry
The Power of Choice
The Haggadah is asking which of two categories we fall under: Are we here because we are hungry, or are we here because we are needy?
"Need" is defined as "awareness of a lack."
Freedom is not simply something that's "nice" to have; rather it is a necessary factor to our very being. As much as we need food to exist, we...
“Gratitude is the moral memory of mankind. If every grateful action were suddenly eliminated, society would crumble.”
– Georg Simmel
Gratitude and happiness are intertwined and for good reason. It is no coincidence that positive psychology practitioners and happiness experts state that in order to increase your contentment in life you need to boost your level of...
We all carry around ideas and images of reality, frequently garnered from other people or from courses we have taken, books we have read, or from television, the radio, newspapers, the culture in general, which give us pictures of how things are and what is occurring. As a result, we often see our thoughts, or someone else's, instead of seeing what is right in front of us or inside of us. Often, we don't even bother to...
The Four Cups of the Seder are structurally connected to the four verbal performances this evening:
(1) Kiddush, sanctifying the holiday
(2) Maggid, the storytelling
(3) Birkat HaMazon, completing the Pesach meal; and
(4) Hallel, completing the festival Psalms.
The Talmud connects the Four Cups to God's Four Promises to Israel: "Tell the...
By: Rabbi Ari Weiss At the close of the Haggadah, after moving from past humiliations to future hopes, a surprise! A piyut, or liturgical poem, first quoted in Sefer Rokeach (1160-1238), that returns to the Haggadic theme of retribution but on a deeper, more fundamental register. Nature is a "war of all against all." The cat that attacks is attacked just as the Egyptians who oppressed are oppressed....