This was the question recently asked of me by a close friend who is not Jewish. I, of course, was totally caught off guard by the question. I had no idea what he was asking. So, I asked him what he meant.
He replied: “Well, I have lots of Jewish friends. And over the last nearly two decades I have attended many Passover Seders. Almost every year, the conversation turns to either how ‘early or late’ Passover is that particular year! So, if every year Passover is either ‘early or late’, when is Passover supposed to be?”
For the uninitiated, the ancient Hebrews were enslaved to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, a little over 3,300 years ago. Passover commemorates the miraculous redemption from this slavery and the birth of the Jewish nation. Though the events took place a very long time ago, we believe that not only do they provide us with eternal lessons and instructions on how to live our lives, even in the most modern of times; we believe that they are also events that are to be relived and re-experienced by every one of us, in every time and place. So, to me, the question runs deeper:
“When, indeed is Passover supposed to be?”
Well, it turns out, the Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, comes from the same root as the word for “limitations or boundaries.” Read this way, we can experience an “Exodus from Egypt” by “emancipating ourselves from our limitations and boundaries.”
Every day we are faced with self, or societal-imposed limitations. It may be as big as some world-changing cause with which we would like to get involved, but feel like it is “beyond us.” Or, it may be something as simple as a smile and a “hello” to someone next to us in line at the market, or in an elevator. Irrespective of the deed, it is our “limitations” which hold us back from a myriad of acts of goodness and kindness. And yet, it is precisely these acts which can change the world forever, and usher in an era of humanity, understanding and peace, exceeding our wildest dreams.
So, it seems that the correct answer to the question is: Passover is supposed to be every minute, of every day. And, one certainly does not have to be Jewish, or celebrating Passover to experience their own “Exodus.”
How about we start right now? Think of something noble and great you have hesitated to do, and do it. And watch the world change around you, for good!
Happy Passover to all!
Passover observances include conducting a Seder. The Seder is a fifteen step, family oriented, tradition and ritual packed feast.
The focal points of the Seder are:
• Eating Matzah.
• Eating bitter herbs to commemorate the bitter slavery endured by the Israelites.
• Drinking four cups of wine or grape juice, a royal drink, to celebrate the newfound freedom.
• The recitation of the Haggadah, a liturgy that describes in detail the story of the Exodus from Egypt. The Haggadah is the fulfillment of the biblical obligation to recount to our children the story of the Exodus on the night of Passover.