Preparing for Pesach 2021/5781 by Rav Natan

Ma nishtana halaila haze mikol haleilot

Every year, we sing the ma nishtana as a way to ask ourselves and those sitting around the table with us: why is this night different than all other nights?

Our haggadot tells us that we add particular rituals to remind us that once we were slaves and now we are a free people.

It is a mitzvah, maybe the central commandment of the seder, that each one of us is obligated to see ourselves as one who actually left Egypt in the days of the Exodus.

But how can we perform this challenging mitzvah? We definitely don’t want to experience any think like slavery during our seder, we want to rejoice our freedom!

I want to share with you today an idea that hopefully will spark meaningful conversations around your Seder table (or zoom!).

While the maror can be very bitter, this is only a symbol, a ritual to spark the curiosity in our children and adults too!

The Seder, like many rituals, is not set in stone. On the contrary! It provides us with a framework to go deeper and open certain conversations that would seem odd or out of place in other contexts.

So my invitation for you this year is to not stop at the prescriptive order of the Seder, but to hold space and ask questions about our personal feelings regarding freedom this year.

You might want to focus on a more palpable topic, like the pandemic that changed our lives this year and how it made us rethink the meaning of freedom and shared responsibility in our own lives.

You can also bring to the conversation questions about particular groups who have been targeted, attacked, and cannot enjoy freedom even in our days as many of us do. How can we learn more about it and what can we do to work together with them so we can all be free?

There are certainly many topics that can spark some curiosity and action. You know the people around you and a little preparation before the Seder can change the experience significantly to everyone. If you have teens, why not ask them to prepare something that they want to discuss?

Since the Seder is created around the Keara (Seder Plate) and the ritual items we talk about and eat, maybe you want to add one or two items there, representing the challenge you want to bring. This can be a great starting point to a meaningful conversation.

This is the month of redemption. We celebrate. We rejoice. And we keep working towards a better world so next year more and more people will be free from whatever they are being held back from, and will join us around the table in celebration.

Chag Pesach Kasher veSameach

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