What we want and what we need
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What we want and what we need
By Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder www.alternadox.net
We all know that we cannot rely on the holiness of our desires all the time. Tonight is special, different. Tonight it is safe to let go. But in a week or a month, who knows? By breaking the middle matzah , we acknowledge that we are still split. We still cannot ultimately trust that our desires and our necessities, our concerns and our impulses, our inner child and our responsible adult, have become one. There is brokenness here.
The two pieces of matzah represent two kinds of eating: because we have to and because we want to. One half we will eat soon, in hunger. The other half we will hide─the half that represents desire, enjoyment, fulfillment, luxury. It is supposed to be eaten on a full stomach, out of desire to eat rather than necessity.
We will hide it because our relationship to it is still uncharted - many of us haven't yet made peace with our desires as portals to the holy. But we are also giving ourselves a goal. The hidden matzah represents our future, the ultimate future, where we are free to do as we wish, knowing that this is Hashem's wish as well. Our ultimate goal is to bring these two halves together.
This is a moment of brokenness, but it is also a moment of faith. In allowing ourselves to break, to recognize the split, to admit unfamiliarity, to admit that we are not yet there, we are also expressing faith that the rift can be fixed. After all, only people who do not believe in healing try to 'keep it together'. Jews, however, believe in the 'healer of broken hearts'. We believe in the G-d who values nothing higher than a broken vessel. We believe that even when the broken matzah is two, it is one.
Immediately following birkat hamazon (grace after meals) we drink the third of four cups of wine. We pour the fourth cup which will be for the upcoming completion of Hallel. We also pour a fifth cup that is situated in the middle of the table called Kos Shel Eliyahu (Elijah’s Cup).
This cup is left undrunk until such time as the halakhic question is answered: Do the Jews in Israel drink the fifth cup which...
Free people ask questions. We begin our Seder with questions. Although the custom is that the youngest at the table asks, tradition instructs that all must ask:
Ma Neeshtana ha-laila ha-zeh meekol ha-laylot? Sheh-bichol ha-laylot anoo ochleem chametz oo-matzah. Halailah hazeh chametz oomatz. Sheh-bi'chol ha-laylot anoo ochleem sheh-ar yerakot. Ha-lailah hazeh maror.
The Voice of a Sexual Assault Survivor
What I do remember is waking up the next morning in a strange room, alone, cold, mostly naked and confused. In a panic I got my clothes together. My heart sank into my stomach as I looked down at the blood-stained sheets. I was so frightened I didn’t know what to do. I was hurriedly “pushed” out the door by the guy who lived in the...
Water is refreshing, cleansing, and clear, so it’s easy to understand why so many cultures and religions use water for symbolic purification. We will wash our hands twice during our seder: now, with no blessing, to get us ready for the rituals to come; and then again later, we’ll wash again with a blessing, preparing us for the meal, which Judaism thinks of as a ritual in itself. (The Jewish obsession with food is...
Source 1: Babylonian Talmud
Context: The Babylonian Talmud is a collection of Jewish stories, laws and debates grounded in the Bible and other Jewish texts. It was compiled in the fifth century in modern-day Iraq, but many portions of it are much older. Here, the Talmud quotes and comments on a passage from a second-century text called the Mishnah. The Mishnah asks, “How long must a person live in a city to be...
As we wash our hands for the first time this evening, we remember that we have the freedom to access resources that many do not. Ask yourself these questions:
In what ways are we free today?
What does freedom mean for Jews in America? For Jews around the world?
What does freedom mean for people of all backgrounds around the world? Are there many who are not free?
Before the blessing over the first cup of wine, say:
We are gathered here tonight to affirm our continuity with the generations of Jews who kept alive the vision of freedom in the Passover story. For thousands of years, Jews have affirmed that by participating in the Passover Seder, we not only remember the Exodus, but actually relive it, bringing its transformative power into our own...
Alla fyller på nytt sina vinglas.
Vi läser Ps 126. "En vallfartssång. När Herren vände Sions öde, då var allt som om vi drömde: vi skrattade, vi sjöng av glädje, och jublet steg från våra läppar.
En av gästerna fortsätter:
Då sade man bland folken: Herren har gjort stora ting med dem! Ja, Herren gjorde stora ting med oss,...
Welcome to Sinai. As you have just crossed the Red Sea, you have had to make many hard choices: freedom or slavery? Pettiness or tolerance? Materialism or life. In many ways, we are in shock of our recent actions. We find ourselves reflecting on what we’ve done. Did we really just leave Egypt? Did a band of slaves—no—ex-slaves really push the leader of one of the greatest empires of our time to let his workforce...
"Let All Who Are Hungry"
We are wired to give.
One of the worst feelings in the world is not being needed by others.
I once asked a group of high school kids: "When was the last time you felt really good about yourselves?" Each responded by sharing an act of kindness and selfless giving.
But a slave has nothing to offer. Drained of...
Jews from Spain, Italy, Sicily, Morocco, Tunisia, and Sardinia would bring the Seder plate to the table with ceremony. Sometimes, they would cover it with a nice scarf and sing as it arrived to the table. They would pass it from person to person around the table, and place it on each head for a moment. This demonstrates that we were once slaves in Egypt and carried heavy burdens on our heads. In...
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 ...
More Clips from Gavriel Goldfeder
In the view from within Egypt, this world is a mess of fragments. It’s called “The Passoverly Challenged Perspective.” Plain materialism. Where mitzvahsare a mishmash of dos and don’ts, Jews are a collection of irreconcilable riffraff, daily life is a cacophony of hassles and, well, just stuff.
Once we blast off far enough to escape materialism’s gravitational pull, we look back down and see a whole new...
The word ' bareich ', usually translated as 'Bless!' is actually rooted in the word ' bereicha ', which means 'pool'. Technically speaking, a ' bereicha ' is a pool that receives the water of a ' ma'ayan ', a spring or well. Water emerges from the earth through a ma'ayan and pools together in a bereicha .
Much of our Seder has been dedicated to the nourishment of the more subtle levels of experience –subtle expression, perception, experience, relationship, and gratitude. But the first matzah we ate tonight was not meant to be subtle─it is the staff of life, borne of necessity, eaten to satisfy hunger rather than for the sake of enjoyment. Now, as we stand at the ready to eat the afikoman , we...