by Rabbi Ilene Bogosian, April 1, 2015

This is a season of multiple transformations. The sun is getting higher in the sky, but tomorrow it might be chilly again. We are not exactly in winter heating season any more when the temperatures soar in the daytime sun, but we also can’t call this springtime yet. In some places this is known as mud season.

Another transformation that comes every year at this time is the one we observe during Passover. Along the road to freedom we had to pass through some mud – on the floor of the parted Reed Sea. Can you imagine the mess? But on the other side, all of the former slaves were free.

The Hagaddah teaches us that “in each generation, every individual should feel as though he or she had actually been redeemed from Mitzrayim, as it is said: “You shall tell your children on that day, saying, It is because of what Adonai did for me when I went free out of Mitzrayim.” (Exodus 13:8). For the Holy One redeemed not only our ancestors; He redeemed us with them.

This statement is remarkable. Our liturgy and our history are not writ-ten in the first person singular. We always speak of what we did, what we were commanded to do, and so on. How is it that the transformation from slavery to freedom is presented as the agenda of each individual? If so why do we sit down in groups at the seder table to experience our liberation?

Each year I respond differently to the tension between the individual and collective aspects of Passover. Here’s my understanding of the text this year: The collective – in our case the community that is our congregation – cannot be healthy if those who come to its table are enslaved. Neither can we create kedushah – holiness – if each of us is concerned only with a private agenda. The creation of sacred connections among us requires each of us to release enslavements to assumptions about each other. Only then are we free to engage in the task of growing as individuals and as kehillah kedoshah – a holy congregation. Those who have gone forth from their own Egypts are the ones who are able to stand at the door of our synagogue to welcome everyone, those they agree with and those they have thought of as adversaries.

Soon Solel will be entering a new season of its communal life and we have certainly been through quite of few winter seasons on the way to this change. At times it has been muddy and messy. There is no new spring growth without that mud though. This month each of you will be sitting down at a seder table so that we can re-experience and celebrate freedom. As a community, I hope you will all be standing at the door this spring welcoming each other and the future you will build in partnership with your new rabbi.


Rabbi Ilene Bogosian

Filed under: Rabbi's Message

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