As Jews, we suspend Torah reading for the eight days of Passover to reflect on our freedom and the story of Exodus. Modern Jews, of course, have never been slaves nor do we have any real understanding of how horrific it would be. We also know that our people’s narrative of Exodus is something that may or may not have happened. Nonetheless, Passover (Pesach) is a wonderful celebration for all Jews and others who cherish life and freedom.
Passover and the traditional seder can be as detailed as you want. There are sites on the web that will tell you how every tiny part of the seder should be done – including extensive preparations even before the holiday. Modern Jews will nod in respect to tradition, but make the seder into something more meaningful in today’s world. The world has changed and so too must the seder. Rather than celebrating only Jewish freedom, we celebrate the freedom of all human beings and pray for the end, once and for all, of human bondage around the world. We also have incorporated celebrating equality of respect for all, including many of those who have been marginalized by society, and even some in our Jewish tribe.
As Jews, we value life and freedom. Judaism is not ascetic – we are told to enjoy life to the fullest. We are also instructed that the destruction of a single human life is equivalent to the loss of a universe. Life is to be defended because it is so valuable. The real power of Passover, however, is the celebration of freedom. Exodus is not only about freedom from the tyranny of the Egyptian government (or any government), but freedom of thought and religion as well. As Jews, we celebrate our freedom from slavery, but also work and pray for the freedom of all people around the world who are not able to enjoy the freedoms of thought and religion. To express ourselves and to think freely is to be truly human and Jewish.
May you and your family have a wonderful Passover!