Bechol Dor V’Dor. In every generation, we are to see ourselves as if we were personally redeemed. This poignant verse in the Passover haggadah begs us to enter the story, to empathize with the oppressive nature of bondage, to breathe deeply into expansiveness of redemption and focus our hearts on the meaning of freedom.
As the world struggled with the COVID-19 plague, no soul was spared from some shadow of it; the collective moan rose as we sunk under the weight of fear and uncertainty lo these many months. There were inconveniences of canceled celebrations, economic despair and for far too many, illness and so much death.
Now with the availability of vaccines, we can begin to feel the fresh breeze of release, freedom from this plague. Avadeim hiyenu v’atah B’nei Horin!
Just as the great rabbis of the past obligated us to see ourselves as personally redeemed, this year in particular we must ask the question: Mi Herut? What is freedom? Thinking about all the personal freedoms before the virus, like walking maskless among the living versus the the rabbinic ideal of freedom, the obligation of the unshackled to work for the redemption of those stuck in the narrow spaces. How are you thinking of freedom?
This year as we taste the bitter herbs and sample the sweet charoset at my family Zoom seder we will talk about freedom. Highlighting lessons learned in our constriction and celebrating the gifts of resilience, empathy and generosity. We will grieve our loved ones and all that was lost this year by removing drops of wine and then refilling glasses to bless and name the newest member of our family, born during this time of darkness. Finally, on this night of questions, we will each recommit ourselves to life L’Chayim and to the holy pursuit of redemption and freedom for all.
Rabbi Alexandria Shuval-Weiner is rabbi of Temple Beth Tikvah and incoming president of the Atlanta Rabbinical Association.