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Why Celebrate Passover?

Why Celebrate Passover?

Why go to a Seder?

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Passover is when the Jew comes out. Not just out of Egypt. Out of hiding as well. Hiding from the Jew within.

According to the people at Pew, somewhere around 7.5 out of 10 Jews will be sitting at a Passover Seder this year. There are Jews that may not fast on Yom Kippur—but Passover? It just pulls.

Because it’s an identity thing. It is not just any another night. It is who we are.Identity is one of those essentials in life. An elephant that identifies as a daffodil will likely be missing out on a lot in life. So too, we human organisms crave identity.

If you’re Italian, that’s simple. You live in Italy, so you’re Italian. You leave, two generations zip by, no Italians.

But a Jew lives inside a story. What geography is to everyone else, the story is for a Jew.

Only that geography has its borders. The story goes on forever and encompasses everything.

When does the Jew go back to that story? On the night of Passover, when we sit together, tasting the bitterness of oppression as we bite into the bitter herbs, sinking our teeth into the bread of poverty called matzah, drinking the four cups of wine of freedom, and retelling our story of liberation through wonders to our children and friends.

It is not just any another night. It is who we are.

The Story That Never Ends

What is the story, really? What makes it still alive?

We all know the themes: Nothing changes until someone feels chosen to make that change.Oppression versus freedom. Tyranny versus covenant. Destruction versus tikun. Ego versus love. The sword versus the written word, and the powerful wisdom of the word.

Those struggles are certainly still alive. They dominate global concerns. They take front and center of our personal everyday lives. We all have our Pharaoh who enslaves us, our chains of slavery to unlock and break free.

Which means that the plot is as yet unresolved. Pretty soon, we have to get ourselves all back to the Promised Land, and the entire world back to the Garden. And yet higher. And that never ends.

That’s why it’s such a crucial story—for everyone on this planet. Because it’s vital that every one of us get that message—that sense that the Creator-of-This-Amazing-Place-Who-Really-Cares-About-It-All is pointing at you, in your face, and saying, “Hey little guy, I’m leaving it up to you. If you don’t do it, no one will.”

Because that’s the only way anything can get fixed—if every individual feels, “It’s up to me. I’m the crucial character in this story.”

Turns out that the essential power of freedom, of tikun, of healing, and of changing anything at all, can all be summed up in one word: Chosenness.

And that is Passover.

Be a Star

So a Jew comes to the Seder. And the Jew is there in one of four modalities of Jewishness—described in the Haggadah as “The Four Sons.”

There’s the wise, know-it-all Jew. The kicking, screaming Jew. The just plain Jew Jew. And the apathetic Jew.

But they all have one thing in common: They’ve all been chosen to star in this story.

Without the Jew, there is no story.

Without the story, each Jew is just another grain of sand on the beach.

Inside the story, we are all stars in the night sky, guiding the world to its Be a star. Be at the seder. And bring those other 2.5 Jews with.destiny.

Be a star. Be at the seder. And bring those other 2.5 Jews with.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
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arthur yanoff April 5, 2017

as our Rebbe said,there is the fifth son,who does not show up, the fifth son who relinquishes his place at the table. to be a fifth son or daughter is to deny the cry in our neshumah that seeks connection with all of israel , and that which frees us from our own mitzraim. we can never begin to be free if we hide from that which is most real. Reply

Sheryl Perth Australia April 1, 2017

Excuisitly well written. Thank you- I'll be sharing this with mant friends.... חג שמח וכשר! Reply

Anonymous Albany March 30, 2017

Important article.
Often I think "Is it any wonder Jews are practicing Christianity these days-the message of suffering, persecution, affliction, poverty, horrors of holocaust, is enough to scare anyone away from being a Jew. It's a miserable assignment by God".
This article helps us see the importance of sticking to what we were sent here for. Reply

sandra peters brooklyn USA March 30, 2017

a comment...
Thanks again for enlightening this non-Jewish person...always enjoy your words. Reply

Jose Francisco Ruiz-Castro Jamaica Plain March 30, 2017

I am not a Jew, I was raised Catholic, but why did I marry a daughter of a lady survivor of the holocaust? Why did my first son studied at a yeshiva in Jerusalem and I have seven loving grandchildren living there? Why do I read chabad.org? Why do I feel at home in Israel? Why do I keep the Jewish calendar on my desktop? What is G_d trying to tell me? or is it that maybe my ancestors from Spain have something to do with it? Reply

Jorge Qro. Mexico March 28, 2017

Let's close our eyes, and just for a moment, a short momentito, let's imagine we are in a Seder. Kadesh, Urchatz, Karpas, Yachatz, has gone smoothly and the fifth step of our Passover is about to develop: the Maggid, the story of the Exodus is going to be retold. And it shall come to pass that...
"With a mighty hand, G‑d took us out of Egypt..."
The apathetic Jew (it's me) is reached by that thought questioning his identity.
- but I'm not a Jew, I'm an alien, I was born and raised by other different values; I am never going to set a foot in a synagogue.
The inner calm is restored after reasoning that one way of another I'm a G-d's creature and that He cares of my present as well as of my future. Reply

Katherine G Levine Littleton via denverjewishcenter.com March 27, 2017

Thank you. Shared hoping both my 2.5 Jewish family and friends as well as some in the secular world would think a bit harder about how they became who they became, and doing so might help repair the universe. Reply