Leviticus 16:1 – 18:30

(Courtesy: Rabbi Howard Cohen)

What keeps Judaism going after all these years? According to verse 16, there have always been “those who revered the Eternal”. More importantly, the verse continues, the core of faithful believers “talked to each other”. With this in mind, let me point out that a crucial part of any Pesach seder is to talk with one another about what the struggle for freedom means. Right after reciting the Four Questions we read:

“Because we were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt…Therefore, even if we were all of us wise, all of us full of knowledge and understanding, all of us learned in Torah, it nevertheless would be incumbent upon us to speak of the departure from Egypt; and all those who speak of the departure from Egypt are accounted praiseworthy.”

Part of the answer to the above question is because we talk to each other and in so doing we tell and retell our stories. Rabbi Levi Yitzhak taught that this all-important talking to one another is implicit in the very name of the holiday of Pesach. He said do not read it as Pesach but rather as ‘peh’ ‘sichah’, translated this means talking mouth, but is to be understood as dialogue. Thus, the deep meaning of the name Pesach means to be in dialogue.

Struggling with faith and doubt is both universal and eternal. This is disquieting, even frightening for those who hope to one day finally have answers. On the other hand, it is also comforting to know that our struggles, uncertainties and impious behaviors are not new concerns for the Jewish people. Sitting around the Pesach seder table is the perfect place to talk about these timeless matter