We live in a world that still knows too much poverty, violence, and oppression. Nameless people struggle. Faceless people suffer. Too many among the downtrodden accept their fate as given. Too many among the elite feel entitled. In the words of Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, “Power, rather than justice, seems always to rule.”
But Judaism teaches us it doesn’t have to be this way. Judaism teaches us that no matter what the challenges, we can perfect the world. Whatever difficulties we face, we face them merely as deviations from an ultimate reality of wholeness and peace. That means no matter how fragmented and broken the world, Judaism gives us hope that we will find healing-- no matter how dark the world, we will find light.
As an enduring expression of Judaism, Passover, the z’man cheruteinu (the season of our freedom), embodies this healing light. The Exodus story we revisit each Pesach reminds us that all human beings are meant to be free. Rabbi Greenberg says that slavery is an exaggerated form of the oppression and deprivation people suffer in general. He adds the most devastating reality of slavery is when a slave “internalizes the master’s values and accepts the conditions of slavery as proper status,” conditions of poverty, hunger, sickness, acceptance and passivity. Passover summons us to unchain ourselves from this status, to set ourselves free from these burdens and all others bound by them.
We observe Pesach as though we are slaves-- to remind us that we must always struggle for our freedom. Even if we have achieved it, there are those who have not; so, none of us is free until we are all free. Judaism inspires the hope and justice necessary to liberate us all.
Betsy, Cara, Jared and I wish you a zissen Pesach, a very happy Passover.
Make it a day of blessing and be a force for good.