Monday, April 18, 2011

Seder Tonight? Be a Stack of Matzah

This holiday of Pesach is a huge exercise in living symbolism. The items on our table, what we consume, how we sit - all these things are linked to a deeper meaning. Sitting on our seder table is matzah - not just one piece, but a stack of three. Some say they represent the three great themes of Jewish thought and prayer: Creation, Revelation and Redemption.

Living in Sonoma County, it's blessedly easy to connect with the throb of life that courses through this world. Just to step outside on a rainy Erev Pesach is to feel the cycle of ongoing Creation - vapor becoming raindrops; trees drinking; flowers blooming; bees buzzing. We perceive, participate and revel in the great flow of shefa - of divine abundance. At Pesach, we bless the renewal of life and sing love songs to Creation.

Being in community with each other is our great mechanism for Revelation - the flow of enlightenment that comes to us through Torah. Not just the written words of our holy texts, but the wisdom we all share with each other; the insights we've drawn from our life experiences, our hard times, our joys. Sharing insight is what seder is about, and it is why we look forward to reclining together in discussion tonight at home or later in the week in community settings. As Rabbi Chananiah said in Pirkei Avot, "When two people sit together and words of Torah are exchanged, the Divine Presence, or Shechinah, rests between them."

The final matzah in the stack is Redemption - our belief that despite all our narrow places, our setbacks, and our hard-earned, self-protective cynicism, change is possible. Does this require a belief in divine intervention? Absolutely -- if we also believe that we are how the Divine acts in this world. When we use our hands and hearts and heads to make more justice, more freedom, more fairness, more compassion, we are Divine intervention. We are the mighty hands and outstretched arms of Redemption.

So let us, this week, reawaken our appreciation of the Creation around and in us.
Let us dare to share our deep and real wisdom with each other.
And let us renew our commitment to making the world a better place.
Let us be the three matzot of the seder plate.

B'ruchah Yah Shechinah, Elateynu Eyn Hachayim, asher kidshatnu b'mitzvoteyha, v'tzivatnu al achilat matzah.
Blessed be the Source of Life that calls us to embody the matzah.

B'teavon. Now eat up.

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