Passover is a time for sharing stories, from the “big” one about the Exodus to the stories families share each year about the matzo balls that were too hard and Uncle Morris who drank too many cups of wine. Every story is about our journey as Jews. We add our story from generation to generation.
Last year I read this wonderful letter from a mother with the six Passover lessons she wanted to pass on to her children. It is from www.aish.com and written by Sara Debbie Gutfreund. The messages she wants her children to hear are lessons we can all take from the Passover Seder. So here they are, a bit edited and abbreviated.
1. Learn how to ask. Most great achievements in life begin with a question. Ask! Ask me about the salt water and the parsley. Ask about the Seder plate with the bitter herbs. All of this is here because I want you to ask me why.
2. Responsibility for each other. We invite all who are hungry to come and eat because we are responsible for one another. Some people are hungry for food, while others are hungry for wisdom. Whatever we have, we should share as much as we can.
3. Embrace challenges. On our table is salt water, which represents our tears. And there are bitter herbs that we will eat to remember the suffering. We speak of our challenges and remember our tears because we can see now how they transformed us. Embrace challenges. Learn from them. Remember them. They brought us to this place today.
4. Take action. Thinking and preparing for change are important steps but what matters in the end is following through with our actions. Matzo teaches us the importance of acting quickly. The world is full of great ideas that have never been realized. Matzo teaches us to move, to do, to run toward our goal.
5. Practice Jewish gratitude. Tonight we sing Dayenu. It would have been enough for us if all we did was wake up this morning, but You gave us water. And that would have been enough but in Your great kindness You gave us food, and more. This is the kind of gratitude that teaches us during the hardest of days that we have so much to be thankful for.
6. The meaning of freedom. Some people think freedom means being able to do what we want. But the Jewish definition of freedom is the ability to create a meaningful life with authentic values. Freedom is living a life of constant growth and striving to live up to our potential.
This year and all to come, take the story that has been passed to us and make it your own — add to it, learn from it and share it.
Shalom…from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.