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.
Why is there no orange on our Seder plate?
In the early 1980s, while speaking at Oberlin College Hillel, Susannah Heschel was introduced to an early feminist Haggadah that suggested adding a crust of bread on the Seder plate, as a sign of solidarity with Jewish lesbians (there's as much room for a lesbian in Judaism as there is for a crust of bread on the seder plate). Heschel felt that to...
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...
Maror (bitter herbs, such as horseradish)--the symbol of bitterness and slavery of the Israelites in Egypt. Today, in a Jewish community that is free, this bitterness takes on another layer of meaning. We acknowledge that there are many among us who are embittered by their feelings of resentment, discomfort, and fear. We know that there is just cause for some of these feelings of fear, for Jews were "other" for so many...
Is there really any reason for a sprig of parsley to be on the Seder Table? What is the connection between karpas and the Jewish People leaving Egypt?
Winter, with its bleak landscape and cold, short days, can lead to gloom and despondency.
In contrast, spring breeds hope. Seeds that have been frozen in the earth haven't died, and in the spring they re-awaken. Even when all is cold and dark,...
The Hebrew word “Kiddush” means sanctification. But it is not the wine we sanctify. Instead, the wine is a symbol of the sanctity, the preciousness, and the sweetness of this moment. Held together by sacred bonds of family, friendship, peoplehood, we share this table tonight with one another and with all the generations who have come before us. Let us rise, and sanctify this singular moment.
Traditionally, The Four Sons/Daughters include a wise one, a wicked (or rebellious) one, a simple one and one who does not even know enough to ask. Each of the first three ask questions about the Seder, essentially "Explain all this to me - what are my responsibilities?" "What has all this nonsense you are babbling about got to do with me?" and "What IS all this anyway?" while the fourth is silent - requiring the adults...
I will take you to be my people... ...
When we rise up from our Seder tables, let us commit ourselves to stamping out xenophobia and hatred in every place that it persists. Echoing God’s words when God said, “I take you to be my people,” let us say to those who seek safety in our midst, “we take you to be our people.” May we see past difference and dividing lines and remember, instead, that we were all...
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...