Tonight is the first night of Passover. For me the day starts with cleaning my house, this year more symbolically than thoroughly. I'll go through my kitchen and sweep out crumbs, so that when Passover begins at sundown, I will have rid myself of anything that has been leavened, and I'll box up and move out flour, baking powder, regular cereal etc. There is so much more than can be done, and this morning I'm thankful Judaism is a religion with a wide range of acceptable practices from extremely observant to something south of what I do. Of course food is the centerpiece, and where I've cleaned up crumbs today, the week is one long cleanup as bread is replaced with matzos, unleavened bread, the original crumb machine. So after cleaning and setting the table filled with ritual elements, which I hope I can find after their year in hiding, I'll begin to cook. This year we're having a pot luck seder so for me it's only chicken.
The centerpiece of the holiday is a seder, the retelling of the exodus from Egypt in a ritualized way with many variations. It's a night of asking questions the most famous of which is, "Why is this night different than all other nights?" Even if you aren't Jewish, asking yourself a few questions today will join you with Jews all over the world in challenging ourselves to find the truth.
We've all been to Egypt, to times and places within ourselves when we've been enslaved to beliefs or habits or walking the treadmill of recreating narrow places in our lives. I began writing prayers from that narrow place. You know what your inner Egypt is. What do you need to do to leave and what do you need to leave behind to move to freedom? Start walking.
Tonight at our seder table, we'll be talking about the ancient plagues and also of modern plagues. Just open the newspaper. There they are arrayed before you first thing in the morning. What are your personal plagues? How can you speak of them a year from now as ancient plagues? What do you need to do to escape your personal bondage? Why is his night different from all other nights? There are the ritual answers, but more relevant are our personal reasons for this night being different. What can be different for you if you choose it to be?
Baruch ata adonai...thank you for being a source of strength to me as I spent the weekend taking care of my grandchildren. They are wonderful and I am out of shape for being the caretaker of three young healthy beings. May tonight's seder be a blessing for all who attend it. May we learn and find answers for ourselves and explore possibilities for growth in our own lives. May seeds of goodness be planted so that we and our children and our children's children are not plagued by what we can help to change. Amen