An article by Rabbi Benjamin Blech, published on Aish.com, discusses how Passover offers Jews five major lessons in order to lead happy and fulfilling lives. Titled “The 5 Most Important Things to Know about Passover,” it prompted a few insights.
1. The importance of memory
Rabbi Blech quotes, “Remember that you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
It is so important to never forget our freedom, our history and our heritage. That’s why we have survived. By remembering and honoring the past, we learn from it and work to create a different future.
2. The importance of optimism
This is right up my alley, as my work in the media is all about finding solutions to problems and about hope. Rabbi Blech tells us that the hardest task that Moses had to complete was “not to get the Jews out of Egypt, but to get the Egypt out of the Jews.” In slavery, the Jews were losing hope. But that was then and this is now, and we have moved on. This is a great lesson: do not get stuck in the past.
3. The importance of faith
Faith is the fuel that has kept us going throughout our history. We are proud to be Jews and that alone gives us faith. It is inside us. I actually feel that Judaism is in my DNA. I can’t explain that but the feeling is strong and primal.
4. The importance of family
No matter which type of Judaism you follow, family is key. We watch and protect our children and each other. Part of the fabric of our lives is our family – children, grandchildren, parents, etc. Even if we do not have immediate family nearby – or at all – we can watch out for each other. There is a place to go among us.
5. The importance of the responsibility to others
Rabbi Blech states, “We begin the seder by inviting the hungry and the homeless to join with us. We conclude the seder by opening the door for Elijah.
“It is our acceptance of responsibility to others that is the key to hastening the arrival of the Messiah.” Helping others and doing mitzvot is a tenet of Judaism. We do not get to where we are going by ourselves. Even if we feel alone, Passover is a special time to connect and reconnect with others and give thanks that we have freedom.
The concept of being able to exercise our freedom was expressed at a workshop I attended on April 5, called “Freedom and Flourishing: Leading a Mindful Passover Seder.” Held at Brown RISD Hillel, it was presented by Rabbi Elan Babchuck, Rabbi Barry Dolinger and Nicole Jellinek, faculty at Thrive: The Center for Mindfulness and Well-Being (www.thrive-ri.org). Participants experienced some of the tastes of Passover and learned about the meaning behind them. We also wrote about our own goals and memories of the Passover seder.
I left feeling so proud to be part of the Jewish community here with its amazing leaders and teachers who bring us their knowledge, wisdom, creativity and true passion for our teachings.
Temple Beiteinu in Delaware had a great article on Passover in their newsletter which elaborates further that the message of Passover is to release our chains of bondage, of blind prejudice, jealousy, greed and self-doubt that keeps us in bondage and prevents us from exercising our freedom.
This is a reminder to me that we Jews have the freedom to choose how we live and uphold mitzvot.
Patricia Raskin hosts “The Patricia Raskin Show”on Saturday at 4 p.m. on WPRO, AM 630/99.7 FM. Raskin is a board member of Temple Emanu-El.