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Rabbi Stewart Weiss

Nisan 13 5779
"In every generation, one must see himself as if he personally had come out of Egypt…"

In many ways, this is THE crucial phrase in the entire Hagada. It tells us that we are not just re-living events of a long-ago past, but rather are experiencing something real, something relevant to the here & now, something that can & should change us, no less than our Israelite ancestors who underwent their own dramatic change from lowly slaves to free & upstanding people.

What are the lessons we should be taking from Pesach in general, & from the Seder in particular?

* Hashem surely performs miracles. True, these may not be obvious happenings; often they are concealed within natural events that seem to us quite routine. But they are constantly there, & they help us – both as a nation & as individuals – to accomplish things that seem impossible.

* Life has its bitter moments. No life is totally free of disappointments, sadness or tragedy; Maror, like it or not, is a necessary ingredient in the Seder of life & we must accept that. But it need not overshadow or negate the overwhelming good things with which we are blessed. That’s why we eat just one helping of Maror, but drink 4 full cups of wine.

* The "4 Children" are in all of us. Sometimes we are motivated & "turned on" to Judaism; at other times we are rebellious, clueless or just plain apathetic. We have to work on ourselves every day in every way, but bottom line: We are all blessed children of the Almighty, come what may. That’s why the very last step in the Seder is "Nirtza – acceptance."

* Hashem can’t do ALL the work! Just as the slaves had to cry out to G-d before He came to our rescue & Moshe had to courageously confront Paro, so, we, too, must utilize all our strengths & capabilities to partner with Hashem &together reach new heights. In short: Don’t Wait – Create!

* The message of Matza: Be proud, yet humble. Moshe had to convince the people that they were meant for greater things, he had to raise our spirits. At the same time, we had to maintain our modesty & acknowledge that, great as we are & can be, G-d is even greater.

* Order, please. The Seder service begins with the reading of the 14 steps encompassing the various rituals of the night, a night we refer to as "Seder night." Although we often cannot see it, there is an order to history, just as chaos does not reign in the universe. Hashem has His plan, & we are a major part of it; every day we are coming closer to that elusive but inevitable day of glorious joy & unification: L’Shana Haba’a B’Yerushalayim!
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