We come to Passover exhausted, every which way, somewhat like the Haggadah’s prematurely aged Elazar Ben-Azaryah, many of us feeling older than our communal years. And yet, we come to Passover absolutely delighted, for what Jew, even in the worst of times (and these are surely not those) didn’t feel the anticipation of majesty and mystery at the sight of a seder table?
We can conjure up everyone over the years of our lives who shared a seder with us. We remember, and look forward to, the thrill of the chill from the door opening for Elijah, imagining him going house to house, watching him “sip” the wine we have poured in his cup.
Around tables, from the Arctic Circle to Australia to the Negev, family and friends come together. On every continent, afikomens are hidden, melodies are introduced, memories are exchanged, Redemption is invoked.
May we agree, before the seder even begins, that the Wicked Child this year is the guest who first introduces politics or the mundane into the seder conversation? It is a night of magic, with no room for the ordinary. It is a night for little children and their elders to drink each other in. How did we get from slavery to freedom, across deserts, across centuries? How did we get from there to here? How did we get from our great-grandparents (what were their seders like?) to our children and grandchildren (and what will their seders be like?)?
We are a community that deserves to congratulate ourselves, at times, and on Passover most of all. The holiday’s unique charitable tradition of Maot Hitim, raising large sums of money organizationally and personally, has led to vast numbers of poor Jews having seders and holiday meals. The memory of Egypt has led many of us to care for each other and the suffering of “strangers.” The classic Haggadah has instilled in us the magnitude of Jewish history and the enchantment of storytelling. The ingathering of seders underlines our Jewish unity and diversity, for which of our seder tables is not a medley of Jewish history, geography, ideology and families?
At evening’s end we’ll sing “Who knows one?” The answer is our God. And us, together.