Passover Dialogue
April 8, 2020

Dear Friends:

Nerves are shattered. Questions remain unanswered. When will it end? What is to become of us? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Truth be told, there are no easy answers. The search goes on for remedies, for understanding the cause and the cure.

 

One thing is certain: This will eventually end, and normalcy will once more rule our lives. In the meantime, life goes on and so do celebrations.

 

For example: Passover.

Wednesday evening, April 8 begins the annual commemoration of the beginnings of a new chapter in the history of the Jewish People. Not only has this episode, filled with majestic happenings, impacted our lives as Jews, but the entire world takes comfort in its description because it is also filled with hope and salvation. Perhaps there is a correlation between this event in history and what we are experiencing now. Both emphasize the need for understanding that together we can overcome adversity through determination and perseverance.

 

This Passover, in particular, will find us separated from family and friends. Perhaps we will be connected by social media, or applications that give us the opportunity to visually visit with each other. Still, we will be alone. The Israelites were alone in their quest for self-determination. We are alone in our desire to be connected once more through social interaction and dialogue.

 

Easter and Ramadan, which occur at the same time, also speak to us about isolation and sacrifice and salvation. Each in its own way attempts to lead us in a path that will find us in harmony with each other and with God who presents us with the opportunities of fulfilling our destinies.

 

The message found in the Passover Haggadah describing the desire to be free and independent as was intended, is universal. When we sit at the Seder table, longing for those we love to be with us, let us remember that there are people all over the world who are alone, and afraid, and looking for the opportunity to live, each under his/her fig tree in peace.

 

When we ask the Four Questions, perhaps, we should redesign them to include: 1. Why can’t we all live in harmony? 2. Why is it so difficult to love each other? 3. Why do we insist upon hating those we find different? 4. Why can’t we understand that together we survive, apart we will vanish?

 

This does negate the normal questions that are asked, instead just add another dimension to the message of freedom. No one can truly be free if their lives do not include the belief that we were all created in the Divine image – none greater than the others the . There is a Midrash that explains this accordingly: One mother, one father was the beginning to teach us that no one is better than another because we all stem from the same father and mother. It is that simple.


This does negate the normal questions that are asked, instead just add another dimension to the message of freedom. No one can truly be free if their lives do not include the belief that we were all created in the Divine image – none greater than the other. There is a Midrash that explains this accordingly: One woman, one man was the beginning to teach us that no one is better than another because we all stem from the same father and mother. It is that simple.

 

Most of all, I would remind you of the generations no longer part of our journey who also laughed with us and joined in singing the familiar songs that make this holiday special. Think of them. Think of the men, women and children, who were systematically murdered because of their adherence to a faith that has stood the test of time. Think of those who succumbed to this dreadful disease and will never be part of us in the future. Think of the men and women who serve our country who will also be far from home and family. And, please think of those responding to this nightmare unselfishly. They are surely alone.

 

Have a great Passover. While we may whisper “Next Year is Jerusalem,” let us also whisper “Next Year Together.

 

Rabbi Irwin Wiener, D.D