Mah Nishtana: Why is this night different than all other nights? That is the question that the youngest child will ask at our Seder Table next Friday night.
I find myself repeating this phrase, “Why is this night different?” For how many more times do Rabbis need to use a weekly column before Shabbat memorializing the newest victims of terror in the land of Israel?
Just hours ago, on a Thursday night on Dizengoff Street in central Tel Aviv, steps from where David Ben-Gurion established the State of Israel in Independence Hall, an evening filled with young people socializing and eating turned into a nightmare, as a terrorist cut short the lives of Barak Lufen, Tomer Morad, and Eytam Magini. Lufen was a father of three and an Israeli paralympic coach.
These three young men will be absent from their Seder table.
Their families will ask, mah nishtana? Why is this night different from all other nights? And the answer will be obvious. This night is different because those sons and that father will not be present.
Passover is not simply about matzah, bitter herbs, and parsley. Passover is about the words of the Hatikvah, lihyot am chofshi bartzeinu, to be a free people in our homeland. We end our Seder saying, lshana habaa biyrushalayim, next year in Jerusalem.
This week is Shabbat Hagadol. The name is taken from the last line of the haftarah, where the prophet Malakhi tells us that Elijah the prophet will come before the day of redemption. That day will be gadol v’nora, great and awesome. The wounds are too fresh to look toward tomorrow. We grieve today. Yet, what we do as Jews is to continue to have faith, continue to have hope, and continue to defend our holy land as a beacon of freedom as a light unto the nations in the days ahead.