In addition to reminding us of our collective past, celebrating culture, community, and miracles, there are two things I would like to particularly emphasize in our joining this evening. First, is to say that all views are welcome here and it is my hope that in our gathering we can recognize the spiritual impulse that is the Oneness of All, whether or not we think of that as G-d. We are, perhaps, more familiar with the Sanskrit word, Namaste, meaning "the light in me sees and honors the light in you” but this idea of revealing the light in the mundane is at the center of Judaism. As Martin Buber, celebrated Jewish philosopher, explains in his seminal work, I and Thou, to truly seeing another person, to see them as self as complete as ones own self, not an object or a story, is spiritual act that evokes G-d, by recognizes their godliness. When translated from German to English, Buber's title looses some of its intimacy so it is worth noting here. Though no longer used in English, thou (and thee) were once everyday pronouns that, like the Spanish tu, was personal in contrast to the formal you, like the Spanish usted. Thou was likewise used in English translations of the Torah for many generations to emphasize this personal relationship. As we come together to see one another and consider this Seder story, I invite each of you to also consider the closeness of G-d or the light.
Secondly, in the personal retelling, I want to remind all of us that this is a wake up call. In the words of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, "the Festival of Pesach, [Passover] the Season of Our Liberation, comes around every year not merely to remind us of the Liberation of our ancestors from Egyptian bondage, but also to inspire us to strive for a greater measure of self-liberation from all limitations and distractions." We are reminded that enslavement can come from within, as well as without. Can be spiritual as well as physical. The word for Egypt in Hebrew, Mitzraim, is etymologically from "straits and limitations" - so tonight we are each journeying out of limitations. A person may be enslaved to the mores of his society, or he may be a slave to his own passions. Judaism teaches that true freedom from this kind of enslavement can be achieved only through spiritual engagement.
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