This coming Monday evening, we will begin to celebrate Passover. The Passover Seder is one of the most frequently celebrated practices on the Jewish calendar — even among those minimally involved with Judaism the rest of the year. That is one of the reasons we have so many Passover resources here at Torah.org, to the point that we’ve listed them all separately, below.
I’d like to use this space, then, exploring why. Why is it that people who feel little attachment to the wonder of sitting in a Sukkah, and/or who completely bypass the receipt of the Torah on Shavuos, nonetheless join together to celebrate Passover every year?
The answer, I believe, comes from the very nature of the Passover Seder itself. “And you shall tell it to your child on that day, saying, ‘This is done because of that which G-d did for me when I came forth out of Egypt.'” [Exodus 13:8] The entire focus of the Seder is to bring the family together, each generation teaching the next — grandparents, parents and children. This creates powerful memories in the impressionable minds of our children, which they then wish to re-create in later years.
To those who would modify or disregard the time-tested formula of the Passover Haggadah, I will go out on a limb and risk offending you, simply by saying: “don’t.” The Haggadah is not about finding new things to talk about that we didn’t talk about a generation ago, and which won’t be relevant a generation from now. The Haggadah is about showing your children that the same things that concerned your own grandparents and parents, some of whom may be with you at the same table, still concern you today.
Why is this night different than all other nights? Because it is a critical component of the glue that has held our people together.
May we all enjoy an uplifting holiday, which enhances our own commitment and that of our children to leading Jewish lives.
Good Shabbos and a Happy (and Kosher) Holiday,
Rabbi Yaakov Menken
Director, Project Genesis – Torah.org