by Rabbi Iris Richman Pesach/Passover 5773/2013
The celebration of Pesach and the reading of the timeless Haggadah from year to year requires a deeper and broader understanding. We are not just obligated to tell the ancient story, but we are also required in each generation to see true liberation through our own eyes and in our own times.
It is not just that the ancient Israelites went out mi-mitzrayim. We did that to arrive somewhere else. As our Torah and Haggadah tell us, the liberation was to enable us to achieve a holy purpose. “God took us out from there in order to bring us and give us the land that God swore to our ancestors.” (Deut. 6:23)
For each of us, that liberation mi-mitzrayim may mean something different. In the literal sense, being liberated mi-mitzrayim means the original Exodus that took us from Egypt. Yet, Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav said: “The Exodus from Egypt occurs in every human being, in every era, in every year and even on every day.” Moreover, mi-mitzrayim also means from the narrow places – meaning that this liberation that we require and celebrate is not only from Egypt, but also from those narrow places that constrain us and prevent our full spiritual and religious expression as Jews.
Tonight, as we give thanks for that ancient liberation which enabled us to enter the holy land of Israel, let us remember that the process of liberation is not complete. As the next verse of the Torah makes clear, this liberation was infused with obligation. We were liberated in order to worship God for our lasting good.
When we celebrate what God did for us – us is neither male nor female, not Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Reform or Renewal. It is simply us, the Jewish People.
Let us join our Jewish Voices Together and say that all Jews must be liberated to serve God and to worship each in his or her own true way, especially at the place that God showed us, where our ancestors united to worship – the Kotel/Western Wall.
Let us envision a next year in Yerushalayim/Jerusalem where women and men alike can worship at the ancient site of the Kotel, free from harassment or arrest, including those who wear tallitot and tefillin containing verses of Torah in order to be brought yet closer to God.
Let us see, this year, through our own eyes, religious tolerance and love for one another in supporting one another to each achieve our highest holy purpose
Rabbi Iris Richman Pesach/Passover 5773/2013
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