A community of communities

March 2015

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 1:19pm -- Rabbi

 

As we near seder time, I want to share with you an observation from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks' Haggadah, concerning Yahatz (the breaking of the middle matzah to form the Afikomen):  "Matzah represents two apparently contradictory ideas. At the beginning of the seder we describe it as 'the bread of oppression our fathers ate in the land of Egypt.' Ibn Ezra explains that slaves were given unleavened bread because, being hard, it takes longer to digest. It removes hunger longer than ordinary bread. Later in the seder, we describe it as the bread the Israelites ate as they were leaving Egypt..... We divide the Matzah, therefore, to show that it has two symbolisms...at the beginning of the seder it is the bread of oppression. Later, once we have relived the Exodus, it becomes the bread of freedom. The difference between freedom and slavery lies not in the quality of bread we eat, but in the state of mind in which we eat it." I wish each of you a Pesach in which, with the help of family, friends and community, you can feel released from everyday burdens and truly experience the Matzah of liberation (even if it does taste a little like cardboard!)

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Fri, 03/20/2015 - 2:45pm -- Rabbi

 

Flowers in snow

Although we see snow on the ground today, we know that spring is on its way.  Each year we experience the miracle that the natural world, which seems lifeless through the winter, renews itself and begins to come to life and to grow again in the spring.  But too often, we miss the lesson that this holds for our human lives.  We, too, often find ourselves at what seems like the end of our own story.  We feel lifeless and hopeless, unable to find a way to move forward.  We can relate to our ancestors in Egypt, unable to imagine a life beyond slavery, resistant even to the promise that Moses holds out to them that the future could be very different.  But the message of spring, like the message of the Pesach story, is that renewal - and even radical change - is always possible, even when it looks like the path before us is a dead end.  We, too, can find our way to growth and new life, taking our inspiration from the stories of the ancient Israelites and from the miracles we see daily in the natural world.  As we begin to clean our houses and plan our Pesach celebrations, may we feel ourselves opening up to the promise of renewal that this season holds for all of us. 

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Wed, 03/18/2015 - 3:17pm -- Rabbi

 

This Shabbat we conclude our reading of Sefer Shemot and the Israelites' journey from Egypt , through the Sea of Reeds and the Sinai desert; their transformation from individual slaves to a people who freely accept the Torah and work together to construct God's sanctuary. It is somewhat paradoxical that just as we finish reading this account, we announce the month of Nisan which begins next Shabbat. For in Nisan we are instructed to recreate this journey for ourselves. It is easy to become overwhelmed by all the pre-Pesach preparations. I hope that there will also be time to clean out our own figurative chametz--the things that weigh us down and prevent us from experiencing the spiritual liberation of Pesach.

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