Passover the time to break free from our chains

Next Friday night, Jews all around the world will be celebrating the holiday of Passover with a traditional Seder. During the Seder, we observe various rituals and traditions such as eating matzo, drinking four cups of wine and, of course, listening to the children ask the Four Questions and look for the afikomen. All of these commemorate the Exodus of our ancestors from Egypt some 3,300 years ago.
One of the central themes of the Seder is listening to and then answering our children’s questions. In fact, the bulk of the Haggadah is structured as an answer to the Four Questions. In the spirit of answering questions, perhaps the biggest question that needs answering is: What relevance does the holiday and all of these rituals have to us so many thousands of years after the Exodus — especially in a country as free as ours?
We read in the Haggadah that in each generation, each of us must see ourselves as personally leaving Egypt. The Hebrew word for Egypt is Mitzrayim, the etymological root of which is meitzar, meaning constraint or limitation. Leaving Egypt then means breaking free from any negativity that is constraining us in our own lives. The truth is, slavery can take on different forms and appearances. For our ancestors, it was forced labor. For us, it may be that negative trait or bad habit that we are trying to kick.
The Seder then is no ordinary holiday meal, but rather a rich tapestry of melodies, visuals, prayers and stories, along with different tastes, smells and things to touch, that are designed to teach us about the true meaning of freedom and help us break free from the limitations in our lives, in pursuit of true freedom.
With this in mind, as we get ready to experience the Seder, let us remind ourselves that, thank God, we are blessed to be living in a time and place where there are no real external challenges to us living proud and committed Jewish lives. This Passover, as nature experiences its own season of springtime renewal, let us resolve to transcend any limitations we may be experiencing in our pursuit of true spiritual freedom. Let us remember that it is only a matter of setting our goals high enough to meet the challenges and opportunities of these times. If we are determined, the opportunities are limitless.
Rabbi Levi Gurevitch leads Chabad of Arlington & The Mid-Cities.

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