At our Seder last week, I was fascinated with the grasp and depth of our friends and fellow congregants as we went through the order. Please indulge me in sharing my delight with you.
Just as I was getting ready to edify the table, before the meal, about the Hallel being said only at night, on one occasion at the Seder, someone chimed in with “on this night the heavenly influences made the night glow as if it were daytime”. It took me a full minute to mentally regroup. One could not get any more concise than that, and I am smart enough to not try to top excellence and moved on to “What was to come after our redemption (fromEgypt)?” Someone answered, “We were given our freedom”, and I pushed it a little further with the query “What else did our people actually receive?” The same person responded, “spirituality and riches”.
To say I was intrigued would be too simplistic. In an attempt to “spoon-feed” the children and edify the adults, I wanted to explore the “riches” proposition. You will recall that very soon after our forefathers began their journey in the wilderness, some of them were involved in fashioning the golden calf. As a boy the thought had occurred to me as to how this people, who had been mercilessly enslaved for over 200 years, could come up with the gold to make a calf. By now I was excited and could tell at least some of the table was intrigued with the direction of the query.
Before I knew it one of the children began to explain that prior to leaving Egypt, the Israelites went to the Egyptian people asking them to “pay” them for all the work they had done.[i] We were “on a roll” by now, and I wanted to be sure it was not just about the gold, jewels and silver, so I asked, “What else did they have?” By now, others chimed in with “Torah, mitzvot, trust in God”, and so on. I was truly invigorated.
Something made me push in the direction of “What have we done with all that was given to us so long ago?” For all at the Seder table, it gave us something to ponder as we retold the ageless story of how God bestowed so much upon us when he freed us from the Egyptians and sent these friends to rattle my soul in such an uplifting and positive manner.
As we move into the final days of Pesach, let us reflect on the week of the festival and the hope we have together for our future as a congregation and as the entire Jewish community.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!
Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham
[i] For a fascinating treatment of this little-known happening, I direct you to Exodus 12:35 in our Etz Hayim. You will find it enthralling. Each time I examine it I see a new twist.