The method of asking and then answering rhetorical questions is a traditional Jewish form of pedagogy, and it’s the tool the Haggadah uses to tell its story. We ask why tonight is different from all other nights, and then we learn the mythical history of our people by hearing the answer.
In this Seder for Radicals, we will ask many questions—both traditional, and new—and we will answer to the best of our abilities. Some questions, of course, we won’t come close to answering entirely. And we can’t let that fact discourage us. In the words of Rabbi Tarfon, “it is not necessary that you complete the work, but neither are you permitted to desist from it.”
Sprinkled periodically throughout this Seder, we will read answers to the question: Why be radically Jewish? These answers serve to remind us that in ways apart from mere Hebrew catchphrases, our history and our traditions command us to repair the world. As Jews, we have an imperative to change the status quo. And thus, act radically. Though we will read some answers to this question, we are here to meditate on how to ask and answer our own questions along this theme:
What better time than Passover, when we reflect on our own history in bondage, to ask who is not yet free?
And though we will not complete the work—certainly not tonight—we will fulfill a special duty by continuing along a journey that started in Egypt, and has brought each of us here tonight.
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