I’m a sucker for the Passover seder. There are many reasons. It is one of the most accessible of Jewish rituals. In fact, I find it absolutely the best such ritual to introduce non-Jews to Judaism. The seder is fun (or at least it should be–but that’s a whole ‘nother story). It’s full of great songs, colorful stories, and powerful spiritual values. And like all good Jewish events, there’s great food! Finally, the message of the seder–a celebration of Jewish passage from slavery and oppression to freedom is particular and universal at the same time–is unbeatable.
Perhaps my favorite saying from the haggadah is the one in my post title. In Hebrew:
B’chol dor v’dor, chayav adam lirot et atzmo k’ilu hu yatza mi’mitzraim.
(“In each generation, one must see himself as if he left Egypt”–pardon the sexism of the original)
The reason I find this passage especially powerful has to do with my view of Jewish history and spirituality. Here, we are commanded NOT to see a past historical event as something that happened way back when. We are to see an event that occurred several thousand years ago as if it happened today, right in front of your own eyes, as if you were a slave and liberated this very day. Back in the days when I studied Midrash, I remember one that said that a Jew reads of Biblical events regarding a patriarch like Abraham as ones that happened just yesterday. Abraham is supposed to be as close to me as my own family. I find the historical immediacy and power of this approach to be undeniably profound.
In honor of my favorite haggadah passage, I thought I’d feature the work of one of the great modern Jewish bookmarking artists, David Moss. He’s created a visually stunning haggadah and the illustration here is of this seder passage.
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