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New! Seder Gems 5782-2022
Make your Seder relevant and inspiring!
These messages will connect with your crowd (maybe even your own kids:) and help them see how Torah and Chasidus speak directly to their challenges and will encourage them to up their game in Jewish observance.
Here’s a short preview of this year’s all new Seder Gems First Night:
Few of us today suffer physical enslavement. All of us, on the other hand, can find places in our lives where ruts of thought and negativity hold us back from the freedom to be our best selves. Passover invites each of us to free ourselves from whatever unhealthy belief or negative thought enslaves our minds and hearts. It seeks to set us loose from our personal Egypt. How can we free and feed our mind?
Few things reveal more about the character of Judaism and its adherents than the fact that our Holiday of Freedom begins with an invitation to the needy: “Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who are in need come celebrate Pesach with us.” What is the Jewish response to freedom?
Tonight, the key Jewish strategy to remember the Exodus is to re-experience it. In the words of the Haggadah: “In every generation, a person is required to see him or herself as having personally come out of Egypt.” Slavery should not be some vague memory, but the actual experience of the participant. Eat matza, taste the bitter herb, remember again the heartbreaking toil and the death of the children.
But why do we insist on re-experiencing our darkest tragedy? Why must each one of us relive it, tasting the bitter herbs of our ancestors’ slavery in Egypt?
The Jewish people are small. We always have been. As we read in the Haggadah, “Few in number…with seventy souls we went down to Egypt.” Can we really make a difference?
“Dayenu” is the most famous Passover song. The word “dayenu” literally means, “It would have been enough for us,” and the song lists fifteen gifts and miracles that G-d provided for the Jewish people during and after the Exodus. Gratitude is not only good on Passover, it is uniquely important to our quality of life at all times. Gratitude is the mother of happiness. It is indispensable to a life well-lived.
Ever wonder why, when you fly from New York to Los Angeles, it always takes about one hour longer to get there than it does to get back?
Because I am a Rabbi, people – Jews and non-Jews – sometimes ask me: “Does G-d really care for every one of us?” “I believe in G-d in a general sense,” they say, “but I just can’t wrap my mind around the idea that in this vast universe, billions of light years across, G-d loves me, and is dealing with me personally. There are seven billion people on the planet, how can G-d know me by name?”
After 200 years, G-d delivered them from Pharaoh, and brought them out of Egypt. You would think they would be happy. But every time they faced hardship, they complained to Moses. “It’s hot, we’re tired. We had better food in Egypt. Moses, the water is not distilled out here, let’s go back to Egypt.” Why would they want to go back to Egypt?
Celebrating Shabbat is not a lifestyle suggestion. It’s one of the Ten Commandments, together with don't steal, don't murder, and don't lie. What's the connection?
Listen to these words: “They will turn their swords into shovels and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore.” Is that a modern U.N. resolution of the 21st century? No, that is how the prophet Isaiah envisioned the world, almost 3,000 years ago. Did the world then look like peace was possible? On the contrary, Isaiah spoke during turbulent times, but his words sum up much of Jewish faith. They express a refusal to be demoralized by defeat, a commitment to strive for justice against oppression and freedom against tyranny, to perfect the world under the sovereignty of G-d…
Every mitzvah, every kind deed, every act of transcendence, is about envisioning a brighter future for ourselves and others, and acting to bring it about. That is the significance of saying “Next year in Jerusalem.” Each one of us can be an architect of the world waiting just over the horizon.