Contact Us

A Youthful Holiday

A Youthful Holiday

 Email

"It's all about the children... They are the future... Jewish education is of paramount importance... yadda yadda..." Those of us who actually stay awake during the rabbi's sermon each week know to expect to hear this at a minimum of three times a year. We bear with the repetitiveness only because we recognize the importance of the message and its inherent truth.

On Passover, however, there is no need to tune in to the rabbi's sermon to hear this message loudly and clearly. The highlight of Passover, the seder, revolves around the children. The entire Haggadah is a response to the questions asked by the children. And the Haggadah is quite specific about the message we are to give our children, providing tailor-made responses for four different types of children. In fact, despite the importance of education, and though we certainly make a point of gathering the children for the menorah lighting, and Purim just wouldn't be the same without the masquerading children, only Passover requires the participation of the youth, and actually makes them the featured center of attention.

Adults may have a monopoly on maturity, but in the realm of truth they have much to learn from the youngWhile the importance of transmitting the message of Passover to our children is self-understood, why is Passover's message deemed more important for the children than the messages carried by other festivals? Torah, joy, unity, repentance -- some of the major themes of the other holidays -- are they any less vital for the future of our nation?

Perhaps one of the reasons for this extra attention is because while we are intended to teach our children a certain message on every holiday, on Passover we are supposed to take a message from our children. And perhaps this is because we are trying to reenact the Exodus, a time which symbolized our nation's youth. "So said the L-rd: I remember to you the loving-kindness of your youth, the love of your nuptials, your following Me [out of Egypt] into the desert."1

Adults may have a monopoly on maturity, experience and wisdom, but in the realm of truth they have much to learn from the young. Because adults lead such complex lives, their decisions are inevitably colored by many factors: how will this affect my career, my family, my vacation plans or social status? Youth on the other hand naturally seek truth, and when they find it -- or when they think they found it -- they will leave all behind and follow their inner compass. There's nothing binding them to any one particular course, so they are ready at the drop of a hat to change course.

On Passover, the Jews exhibited a youthful disposition. They were willing to leave behind their previous lifestyle, homeland and habits, to chase the truth in a barren desert.

In our personal lives we, too, seek liberation. We wish to experience true freedom, to escape the many bonds of habit and nature which limit us. The lesson we learn from Passover is that to experience liberation we must reconnect with our inner child. As long as we refuse to make the big leap, to completely disengage from our past, we will never be truly free.

This is especially true with regard to our pursuit of spirituality. Leading a truly spiritual life demands the courage to make a complete reversal -- to follow G‑d "into the desert," leaving behind a lifestyle that we may have been comfortable (but not happy) with, and jumping into G‑d's embrace through complete dedication to His Torah and Mitzvot.

It's great to be an adult with maturity, wisdom and experience. But it's only worth it if these qualities assist us -- instead of impeding us -- in our quest for freedom.

Footnotes
Rabbi Naftali Silberberg is a writer, editor and director of the curriculum department at the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. Rabbi Silberberg resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Chaya Mushka, and their three children.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
 Email
Start a Discussion
1000 characters remaining
Related Topics