A Tidbit of Torah – Parshat Metsora and Shabbat Hagadol 5784

A Tidbit of Torah – Parshat Metzora and Shabbat Hagadol 5784

Every year the Haggadah enjoins us to internalize that, “B’chol dor vador chayav adam leer-ot et atz-mo k’ee-lu hu ya-tzah me-mitzrayim” – “In every generation, each person is obligated to see themselves as if they had participated in the Exodus from Egypt”. This powerful and evocative statement is both a call to empathy, to feel the suffering and redemption of our ancient ancestors and a command to use the narrative in our current reality to feel ourselves being lifted out of despair and into freedom.

As we approach Passover this year, I find the passage especially resonant as our anticipation of joining with family and friends around the seder table is tempered by the challenges facing us as a community. Our happiness is tempered by a sad awareness of the hostages still being held in Gaza and their empty chairs at the table.

This Passover is different than every other Passover. This year the echoes with the trauma of October 7, the ongoing war in Gaza, and the concern of an escalation of the war. This Passover is different than every other Passover because thousands of Israelis are displaced from their homes in the region adjacent to the Gaza Strip as well as in the north along the border with Lebanon. This Passover is different than every other Passover because of the rising tide of antisemitism and its burgeoning on college campuses which distresses us, even as weakening bonds of allyship leave us feeling increasing isolated.

So how do we celebrate the festival of freedom when over 100 people are still held captive in Gaza? What do we do when call for all who are hungry to come eat at our tables knowing that so many Israelis are not at their own seder tables, and that millions of Palestinians are on the brink of famine?

I believe the only way to do so is directly and honestly. Even as our own Passover tables fill with family and friends, we leave an empty seat at the table with a photo of a hostage. We need to include this new chapter in our history reflecting on both the suffering of the present and the hope for redemption in the future. Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks teaches that, “Judaism is a religion of memory. We remember the exodus annually, even daily. But we do so for the sake of the future, not the past.”

Below are four Haggadah supplements filled with ideas and suggestions for how to incorporate our current reality into your seder experience. Today’s Musical Moment focuses on positive elements of our Passover celebration as a balance to weightiness of the moment.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameyach –

Rabbi David M. Eligberg

Honoring the Hostages Passover 5784

The Haggadah of Hope: Bringing Israel and the Hostages into Your Seder

Bringing the Hostages to Your Seder: Supplement

I Believe Israeli Women – JWI & Seed the Dream Foundation