Rabbi Leder's Shabbat Message - May 3, 2024

  • Clergy
  • Shabbat
Rabbi Leder's Shabbat Message - May 3, 2024

I don't know about you, but I’m always glad to see Pesach end. Not that I’m unhappy to see it arrive. I love the Seders and a table filled with family and friends. But somewhere around the third day or so I find myself starring into the refrigerator craving pasta, cake, brownies, and bagels. I’m tired of potatoes, omelets, and salads. I’m fresh out of new concoctions to put on top of matzah. Worst of all, after those first few days I am painfully, and I do mean painfully, aware of why we call matzah "the bread of affliction." Let’s be honest, seven or eight days of Pesach is just about all anyone, even the most devoted Jew, can take.

But now, thankfully, the last matzah crumbs are gone. The uneaten macaroons have been exiled to the back of the pantry or the trash. Rice, pasta, bread, cereal, and cookies have been acquitted and set free. Pesach is finally over and all is well. Except for the fact that all is well. Let me explain what I mean by asking a few questions.

What did you have to eat the day before yesterday? Who was Gerald Ford's vice president? How many times this week did you forget where your phone was? Let’s face it, we have short memories. Not that it matters much; it's mostly trivial things we forget. The important things, we remember.  

But do we? Just twelve days ago we were at a Seder. We talked about the homeless, the hungry, and the oppressed. We promised ourselves we would do more to help them. We remembered the hostages being tortured by Hamas, and the innocent Gazans suffering because of their despotic leaders. We saw family and friends and promised to spend more time with them; to hug each other little tighter, a little longer, a little more often. 

Maybe we went to synagogue on the last day of Pesach to say Kaddish for a loved one now gone. Or maybe we felt the pain of them missing from our Seder table. We promised to honor their memory by being a better person and a proud Jew.  

Now, Pesach is over, and in a matter of hours for some of us, and a few days for the rest, our lofty promises have come back down to earth. We spoke of the poor and the homeless at our Seders, but twelve days later a lot of us are back to eating and acquiring to excess while the hungry stay hungry and the homeless sleep in tents or cardboard.  

In the Haggadah we met the wicked son who asks "What is this celebration of Pesach to you?" His wickedness stems from his indifference. He excludes himself from the pain and injustice all around him. A few short days after Pesach we follow the NFL draft and the Dodgers but skip the news; trying to think less often about hostages and hatred. We felt lucky to be with family and friends, but now old patterns of hurry and scurry and "Let's get together sometime soon,” are back.  

Old habits, that's what we are; old habits stacked one upon another and bound together with the mortar of our own indifference, and by the simple fact that we are merely human and often cannot even remember what we had for lunch yesterday. 

We’re all happy to see it go. But the truth is that Pesach ends too soon every year. Because the fight for freedom must never end. Because the fight to remain grateful while surrounded by excess must never end. Because the fight for Israel and peace must never end. Because the fight to hold our loved ones close while the centrifuge of our hectic, dizzying lives tries to spin us apart, must never end. Because the truth is that no matter how glad we are that Pesach is over, the fight to remember, to remember it all, has just begun.

Love and Shabbat Shalom,