Jewish Memory and Revelations

Living a Jewish life means living within a particular framework of rituals and experience, values and memories (i.e. we were slaves in Egypt) and guidelines (Jewish Law). Passover, a microcosm of Jewish life, requires a set of guidelines in preparation of the festival including the cleaning of “Hametz”, dietary constraints and of course the ‘Seder’ accompanied by the ‘Haggadah’. Within this framework we remember stories, sing songs and chant blessings all reflective of Passover’s primary theme – עבדים היינו – we were slaves.  The notion of Slavery vs. Freedom is reflective of the all-encompassing theme of duality in our Torah, in our lives and our existence.  Genesis begins with creating order out of chaos for “…the earth was unformed and void…” so God decides on boundaries and creates: light and darkness, day and night, and so on.  The Passover Seder does just that – it reminds us of the order of things.  Like Genesis, Exodus is a story about creation, of setting boundaries – of transformation through revelation.  It is precisely this act of transformation through revelation that the Jewish People seek to recall, continuously, year after year, that “we were slaves in Egypt”.  Creation of the world cannot be duplicated, but the transformation from slavery to freedom can be recalled, urging us to appreciate the duality of existence: yesterday we were slaves, today we are free.  What will tomorrow bring?  As far as our tradition is concerned, tomorrow is today and today we are free.  This is what I believe the Sages of blessed memory intended to do when they created the Seder. The story of Exodus is simple and easy to understand, yet the journey of Exodus – as in life – is complex and full of surprises.  However it is the complexity of life that brings us meaning, allowing us to grow spiritually and intellectually; constantly knowing from where we came, so that we may know to where we are going.

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