These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

[PCJE Dvar Torah] Pesach, Matzah, Marror

Posted on April 13, 2014 by Naomi Zaslow

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naozasOver the last week, I and most of my fellow PEPers, have been traveling around the States, doing model lessons for schools in hopes of gainful employment. One of my favorite model lessons that I’ve done focused on the Passover Seder and the way that we tell our story of leaving Egypt year after year.

In Mishna Pesachim 10:5, Rabban Gamliel demands of each Jew to see themselves as if they personally left Egypt, recreating the cycle of slavery to freedom at the Seder. But is it really possible to see ourselves as slaves? Many of the students that I’ve asked this question to have responded by saying that it would be impossible to appreciate our current freedom without first remembering our past slavery. But how can we get into the mindset, the experience, or slavery?

In that same Mishna, Rabban Gamliel lays it out for us: each Seder must have at least three foods that we eat and explain from: Pesach (the roasted lamb/beet), Matzah and Marror (the bitter herb). Though in our lives today, slavery is a distant and not easily accessible memory, by experiencing these foods we are able to plug into our collective memory of our bondage in Egypt.

As we go into the Seder tomorrow night, I invite you to let yourself experience the idea of slavery through our foods, and to ask yourself – why is this important for me today? How will I change the world around me by recalling our slavery?

In every generation we tell this same story. This year, let it move you into action.