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Next Year in Jerusalem . . . Really!

Next Year in Jerusalem . . . Really!

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Question:

Here’s one I always wanted to know. We traditionally end the Passover Seder with the wish, “Next Year in Jerusalem!” What if you’re living in Jerusalem? Do you say, “This year in Jerusalem!” or just leave that line out?

Answer:

You can be miles away from Jerusalem even while living there. And you can be on the other side of the world but only a step away. Because Jerusalem is much more than a city. It’s an ideal that we are struggling to reach.

The Jewish story can be summed up as a long journey from Egypt to Jerusalem. Beyond being just geographical locations, they symbolize two opposite spiritual states. The journey from Egypt to Jerusalem is a spiritual odyssey. Both as a nation and as individuals, we have always been leaving the slavery of Egypt and heading towards the freedom of the Promised Land. By analyzing the psychological Egypt and the inner Jerusalem, we will see how this is a road that we are still traveling.

The Hebrew name for Egypt is Mitzrayim, which means limitations, restrictions, obstacles. It represents a state in which our souls are trapped in our bodies, enslaved to material desires and tied down to physical limitations. It is a world in which righteousness, justice and holiness are held captive to corruption, selfishness and egotism.

Jerusalem means “the city of peace”—a place of peace between body and soul, heaven and earth, the ideal and reality. When our body becomes not a prison for the soul but rather a vehicle for the soul’s expression; when we live our lives according to our ideals rather than our cravings; when the world values goodness and generosity over selfish gain—then we are in Jerusalem, we are at peace with ourselves and the world.

Imagine you are in your car, stuck in heavy traffic. You are late for an important meeting, and you see someone struggling to enter your lane from a side street. You are faced with a choice: to be kind and let them in, or to remain preoccupied with your own pressing needs and drive on.

If you do not allow them in, justifying yourself by thinking of how late you are, then you’re still in Egypt; your selfishness has overtaken your goodness.

If you overcome your concern for your own needs and let them in, you have just left Egypt. You allowed your innate goodness to prevail over your instinctive selfishness. You’re out of Egypt, but you’re not yet in Jerusalem.

In Jerusalem, you would automatically want to let them in. Your important meeting would pale into insignificance in comparison with an opportunity to do a favor for another person. You wouldn’t have to conquer your selfish nature; your nature would itself be kind and selfless. There would be no need for a battle to do good in the city of inner peace; it would come naturally. I don’t know about you, but I am not there yet.

The Jewish people were born in Egypt, in slavery. But they were told that on the other side of a vast desert lies their destiny, their Promised Land. As our forefathers walked out of Egypt--3323 years and some-odd weeks ago--they were taking the first steps of a long journey to Jerusalem. Every generation since has pushed further forward along the road to Jerusalem. The journey continues with us. But we haven’t got there yet. Even if you are living in the city called Jerusalem, as long as there remains suffering, injustice and unholiness in the world, we haven’t reached the Promised Land. As long as we remain slaves to our own negative instincts and selfish desires, we are still struggling to truly leave Egypt.

As we sit at the Seder, we note that another year has gone by, and we have yet to complete the journey. But we are getting there. We are that much closer to the Promised Land than we were last year. We have advanced a few more steps in a march to freedom that has spanned generations.

Perhaps this year, our efforts to better ourselves and our world will bring the fulfillment of the words of the Haggadah:

This year we are here, next year we will be in the Land of Israel. This year we are slaves, next year we will be free.

Next year in Jerusalem . . . literally.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
Illustration by Chassidic artist Michoel Muchnik; click here to view or purchase Mr. Muchnik's art.
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Misha Horenstein Milan April 7, 2017

There is another aspect to your comment about allowing someone into your lane during heavy traffic. Doing so keeps the traffic flowing, avoids jams and backups and eliminates stop-and-go driving. Check out a video on YouTube called "Traffic Waves". Reply

Duncan Scotland October 29, 2015

I am an Atheist and know only a little Jewish history but that was a great and informative story. Thank you. Reply

cabezudo Queretaro, México April 14, 2015

Thank you Rabbi Moss for this spiritual uplift. I'm still in my everyday struggle, but after reading this I feel confident: next year in Jerusalem. Reply

Inge Reisinger May 4, 2011

Thanks once again, reading your story is like a day and nightcream for woman it gives you a young skin but after reading your articles you automaically smile from your heart so the effect of the cream will be doubled up. And that gives you a bright face till 120. Reply

Anonymous Melbourne, Australia April 26, 2011

Next Year in Jerusalem Thank you, Rabbi Aron Moss. Impressive and motivating, and touches my heart. I wish that the Arabs of the Middle East could read and understand this. HOW I DO wish it... If members of the United Nations could read your words, they might just begin to have a better understanding of us. But it seems that the last thing they want is to understand the Jewish truth. Thank you again. Reply

Bobby Hooks Macon, Ga April 23, 2011

To: Anon in Toronto I am sorry that your family "fell out" over the most misguided attitude of our time - tolerance. Some today think that we should be tolerant of just about any and everything, including evil and evildoers, but it is written that we are to eschew evil, by which Job drew G-d's praise for so doing. (Job1:8; 2:3) We are not only to avoid evil, but hate it as well. (Ps. 97:10; Prov. 8:13; Amos 5:14,15) Would King David have drawn the ire of your family members who think that children should be taught tolerance, had he been at your Passover table? They might read Ps. 109 for his attitude on that and what prayer he offered to G_d for his evil enemies.
The "world" (Egypt) thinks that it can have peace through tolerance and the "spiritual" (Jerusalem) knows that peace will only be attained when evil is erased, during the Messianic Age and in the New Jerusalem in the World to Come. Reply

Feigele Boca Raton, FL April 22, 2011

Here Today, There Tomorrow! If you already live in Jerusalem, who can say if next year you will still be living there?People move all the time. So you pray that you will still be in Jerusalem next year – Why does it have to be next year and not now? Does that mean we don't deserve it? Jerusalem representing Jews from all over the world who, unfortunately, cannot make it there but are hopeful that maybe one day will come when they will be able to make it for good behavior. Turning towards Jerusalem for moral support keeps our faith alive. In our hearts, in spirit and in our soul
we belong there, if not physically. Reply

Inge Reisinger April 22, 2011

so true thank you I"ll use this story for my friends and kids Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA, USA April 21, 2011

So, this is beautiful, but, nu? Why NEXT year? Ah-hah! Reply

Anonymous Toronto, Canada April 21, 2011

next year in Jerusalem It really means only one thing ... when Moshiach comes to gather in HIs Kallah He will take them to a re-created beautified Jerusalem forever to be with Him. At Pesach we yearn for this to occur and it could occur even before the seder is over, but only for those who are His own. This will occur very soon.

Yavo Moschiach, yavo. Reply

Anonymous toronto, canada April 21, 2011

Haggadah We used a new Haggadah at our seder this year. There was one passage that upset some family members:"Pour your wrath upon the nations that do not recognize You and upon the kingdoms that do not invoke Your name. For they have devoured Jacob and destroyed his habitation. Pour your anger upon them and let Your fiery wrath overtake them. Pursue them with wrath and annihilate them from beneath the heavens of Hashem".
This is a very strongly worded passage and in these days of striving for tolerance as hopefully children are taught today, it is somewhat disturbing to see these words included in our Haggadah. After some disagreement as to interpretation (in raised voices) that concluded our seder! Reply

daniela April 21, 2011

Yerushalayim I think if we have the seder in Jerusalem we say "Next year in the rebuilt Jerusalem" Leshana haba' be Yerushalaim habenuya.

moadim le simcha to everyone Reply

Anonymous lake worth, fl April 18, 2011

what amazing insight! thanks for the wonderful thoughts you have shared about "next year in jerusalem" i will try to keep you words in mind not only at passover but always! Reply

Rick Asensio Leura, New South Wales, Australia April 18, 2011

Next year in Jerusalem In my heart I hope and pray that vibrant, growing and expandind Jewish communities all around the world are able to commit to these prayerful sentiments.
The diaspora must prevail in all countries for the spiritual growth and health of the Jewish people. Especially in the rapidly growing and "repairing" communities of Europe....where it all happened for us historically....and will do again!
I am commited profoundly to the growth and develolpment of the Jewish Diaspora....we owe it to the world!
May G-d bless you all at this Holy time.
Shalom Reply

Laura F. Wilkison Casa Grande, Arizona/USA April 18, 2008

Next Year in Jerusalem...Really If I lived in Jerusalem then I would pray... As I have had the privilege, O G-d, to observe Passover here in Jerusalem may it be Next year that the whole House of Israel return to celebrate the end of her exile here in Jerusalem. Reply

sarah lerner Jerusalem, Israel April 8, 2008

thank you for this insight! it has given me a whole new perspective on the purpose and journey of the seder. i may be lucky enough to live in the physical jerusalem, but i hope that this year i can really be in jerusalem... :) Reply

Anonymous January 10, 2007

excellent and very motivating. Reply

Roberto tampa, USA via chabadbrandon.org April 16, 2006

NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM...REALLY VERY GOOD. Reply

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