We all love stories: bedtime stories, family stories, historical stories, romantic or adventure stories. The telling of stories, listening to narratives, the sharing of tales tall or close to our lives is a universal occupation.
We are at the key story-telling occasion on our Jewish calendar. On Passover, we tell the story of the exodus from Egypt through the Haggadah, which literally means “the telling.” That is the primary obligation of this holiday — telling the story. And as we tell the story, we are more than “celebrating” the holiday, we are “experiencing” it.
As it is said in the Haggadah, “In every generation one is obligated to see oneself as one who personally went out from Egypt.” In the center of the idea of going out of Egypt is the leaving of slavery, the moving into freedom. It means that the center of this holiday, the spiritual experience, revolves around the concept of freedom. We get in touch with that experience through the rich traditions of the Seder. The traditions play on all our senses to help reconnect us to our past. From the sweet taste of freedom (charoset) to the bitterness of slavery (maror), we are recreating the Passover meal as our ancestors have continued to do for generation after generation.
Passover is the paradigm for birth — the birth of a nation as the people cross through the waters of the Sea of Reeds; the rebirth of the earth as it awakens from winter’s slumber; and the spiritual rebirth of every person as we consider our own Egypts, the narrow places that hold us back from living our lives most fully.
And so we celebrate this festival by focusing on the blessing of freedom. We are taught that until all are free, none is truly free — political freedom for all people, freedom from the things that still enslave us, and freedom to worship God in our own unique way.
May this time of our “release” bring rebirth and a profound appreciation of the sweet blessings in our lives.