Rabbi Wolpe - ADL Impressions

A Passover Reading

Blessed are You O Lord our God, who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us to eat bitter herbs.

We sit in ease at the Seder table and eat bitter herbs to recall the hardships of our ancestors and the ordeals of those who still suffer. We cannot forget the images of our brothers and sisters who are hostages, in cruel captivity; those families who sit at the seder in bitter anguish wondering about the fate of those whom they love; families who sit at the table that is not full, for loved ones killed in battle, injured and unable to join, serving their counry even on the holiday — reminders of the legacy of a hatred all too alive with us today. Maror is the taste of absence, the sign of the empty seat.

As with taking drops from our cups for the fallen Egyptians, we do not forget the sufferings of others, those in war zones everywhere who undergo deprivation and suffering. As with generations who preceded us, we do not shut our hearts to the pain of human beings no matter where they may be.

As hatred rises against the Jewish people across the globe, we are particularly mindful that maror is supposed to bring tears to our eyes. We weep for the legacy of antisemitism that has brought so much destruction into God’s world. We weep for those who even today, 3,000 years after our people were born, feel they cannot be fully free because of the prejudice against them, against their children, against our small family of faith.

Maror brings pain but not despair. We combine it with Haroset to remind us that the world is also full of sweetness, and it is our task to feel both, the honey and the sting, the tribulations, and the richness of tradition, the bitter and the sweet. As we taste the maror and recall the anguish that afflicts our people and our world, we pray that in the year to come, through our efforts and God’s help, there will be less pain, fewer who suffer, more who can celebrate at home and in peace. Amen.