This Seder Is Like The First
The Passover Seder’s “Four Questions” are a hit in most Jewish households. It is the opportunity to nudge the youngest child forward, cajoling them to sing Mah Nishtana, leading everyone in familiar song. But if we analyze the text, there is only one question being asked:
When we sit down to Passover seders, we read about the oppression in Egypt and try to imagine ourselves as enslaved. We often forget that we are celebrating a holiday first celebrated before liberation.
The very first night of Pesach the Israelites were anxious and scared and knew that what was happening had no precedent in history. They hoped for a miraculous deliverance but had not yet seen it. The first Passover began not in ease but in anxiety.
For many of us this Passover will be true to the spirit of our ancestors. We are overcome by uncertainty and anxiety. We do not know what will happen; there is an element of the Yom Kippur liturgy hovering above the seder table – who will live and who will die, who will be healthy and who will grow sick.
The Passover message is that in darkness are the glimmers of redemption. “In the evening there is weeping and in the morning joy” wrote the Psalmist. On this Pesach we identify with the fear our ancestors felt in the face of a very different threat and we look for salvation, as they did, in one another and in God.