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D'var Torah - Pesach

03/29/2018 05:05:00 PM


Rabbi Kassorla

Do you know why God created human beings? According to Elie Wiesel, God created human beings because the Holy One loves a good story.

More than any other time of year, Passover is about story telling. We are commanded to tell our children the story of the Exodus. The Torah states: vihigadita livinkha bayom hahu laymor... "You shall tell your child on that day..."

Indeed, the telling of the story of the Exodus is one of the character building events in our way of life. More than theology or philosophy we are the people of the story. Even when other forms of observance fall by the wayside, we find our way back to the dinner table on Passover to speak of our origins as slaves and our liberation from bondage. The most secular Jew carries the Exodus deep in his or her soul. We mention it, in our liturgy, night and day. And we are reminded to treat the stranger with kindness because "we were strangers" in the land of Egypt.

Even the Ten Commandments begins with a story: I am the Lord your God who took you out of the Land of shall have no other God's before me.

But that is not the only story we tell on Passover night. For each family, Passover has its own unique memories and stories. When we gather around the table we think of Passovers past. Who asked the four questions? Who opened the door for Elijah? Who found the Afikomen? Those stories are as much a part of Passover as the one in the Haggadah.

Isaac Bashevis Singer wrote: "When a day passes, it is no longer there. What remains of it? Nothing more than a story. If stories weren't told and books weren't written human beings would live like beasts, only for a day. The whole world, all human life, is one long story."

So what stories do you tell, not only on Passover but throughout the year? I think one of the most meaningful activities I perform as a rabbi is sitting with families prior to a funeral and saying to them, tell me your story. The stories that I hear come from deep inside of the surviving individuals. Sometimes the stories are told with tears, though often the stories are told with laughter. It is my privilege to listen and to share those stories the next day in my words of tribute.

The story of Passover, if you think about it is a very happy story, but also at times not so much. It's about suffering and oppression. And it's about the wickedness of the Egyptians and the self imposed plagues that came about because of Pharaoh's obstinate insistence on keeping the Israelites as slaves. We open the door and say, "Pour out your wrath..." We don't tell the story because it is a happy story but because it is a true story that is essential in understanding who we are. It's a story that makes us who we are.

Pessah Allegre to one and all. May your story always be told-with excitement and joy! I hope your Seders will be full of the stories of our liberation from Egypt 3, 700 years ago and your own stories, from last week. Moadim Lesimhah.

Sat, March 23 2019 16 Adar II 5779