Seder Night

The Key to Seder Night
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Wednesday 20th April 2016

For some people, there is a very obvious connection between ‘Pesach’ and ‘slavery’. One of my friends had a large family and yet still stayed at her parents’ house every year for the entire duration of Pesach. As she put it: “I would rather have stayed in Egypt than have to clean out my whole house and make Pesach”. It’s true that, out of all the holidays, Pesach is the one that involves the most amount of work. Cleaning the house, changing over dishes, hosting a seder and making countless macaroons all involve slave-like labour. So where is the freedom in Pesach? 

For those of us who are old enough to remember the movie ‘The Truman Show’ we remember how the hero of the story, Truman Burbank, grows up as an unsuspecting star of a reality TV show. His friends and family members are all played by actors and his life is broadcast to thousands. Throughout Truman’s childhood he displays a desperation to travel and explore the world yet he is constantly dissuaded to prevent him from discovering that his world is actually false. The movie was extremely successful and netted over $80 million. I believe that the reason for the film’s popularity was that it struck a chord with its audience. Growing up, many of us have a feeling that there is more to life than our immediate surroundings and we are desperate to explore, discover, investigate and question yet all too often our society and those around us tell us to ignore these ideas. Until recently children were expected to be seen but not heard. Even today we often hope that our children just knuckle down and follow the beaten path. 

With this in mind we realize what a revolution the festival of Pesach is. The main goal of the Seder night is to ask questions. Particularly to encourage our children not just to blindly follow our footsteps but to ask and ask until they make their choices on their own. Judaism is telling us not to be satisfied with our current reality. It is telling each one of us to keep questioning, keep asking, keep exploring. None of us want to be trapped in our own Truman show. It is our Pesach responsibility to start to ask and not to stop until we have found satisfactory answers. And then to start to ask all over again. This is the freedom of Pesach. And I really believe that this is the meaning of true freedom in general: the right to question and to explore. 

Rebbetzen Chana Hughes

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