Duality and contradictions are found throughout the Torah, in Jewish life, and Israel’s existence as a people and a nation-state. The book of Genesis begins with chaos seeking order, attempting to create a semblance of normalcy because life is anything but normal. Like creation, on Passover we have a Seder, an “order”, of reenacting our story through experiencing the duality of slavery and freedom, celebrating good over evil, revelation versus concealment, and transformation of the Tribes of Israel to the People of Israel. We remember, we sing, and we bless as we enter a conversation with our past, inviting our children to ask “why”, the arba qushiyot, the 4 questions found in the Haggadah, anchored in: “Why is this night different from all other nights?”
Today’s youth are being asked: “What is your why?”, the answer is their very own; it is their calling, it is their conviction, it is their mission statement. No different from previous generations, this generation also wants to belong, in fact it wants to lead, and it wants to do it now. Just as previous generations this generation also wants to ask the difficult questions, not necessarily the questions asked by the child at the Passover Seder, but the type of questions asked by students of the Talmud, the Torah, and of history, all of whom ask “why”. Just as then so too today, our youth want to make sense of their world, of their society.
As we prepare for this year’s Passover Seder, we recall the story of Exodus; the storyis simple and easy to understand, but thejourneyof Exodus – as in life – is complex and full of surprises. It is the complexity of life that brings us meaning, challenging us to grow through the constant questioning and grappling with identity and purpose. Perhaps on this Passoverwe veer off the predetermined playbook, the Haggadah, for just a bit by adding a fifth and sixth question: “who are we?” and “what are we doing here?” Ask the young people at your table, you just might be inspired.
Hag Pesach Same’ach!