Rabbi Arnold Goodman’s 2022 Passover Message

Rabbi Arnold Goodman’s 2022 Passover Message

Rabbi Arnold Goodman shares his inspiration and thoughts on this year's Passover holiday with the community.

Rabbi Arnold Goodman
Rabbi Arnold Goodman

The five biblical festivals: Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot are dated according to the phases of the moon but only Pesach and Sukkot are celebrated on the full moon.

Under a full moon our liberated ancestors exited from Egypt, and under a full moon we will soon gather at our seder tables to celebrate this cardinal event in our history thereby reaffirming the challenge and the joy of being part of our historic community.

The Haggadah reminds us that in every generation there were those who sought to harm us, but by the grace of God we continue to survive.

Yet as we recount the story of our liberation and our persistent survival, we do take note of the suffering of other peoples and communities, and this year focus will be on the horrors of Ukraine. Pesach’s central message, however, reaffirms and celebrates our Jewish identity.

Sukkot, the other full moon festival, celebrates universalism. The Rabbis noted that during the seven-day festival a total of seventy bullocks were sacrificed in the Temple as a prayer for all humanity. (In the Rabbinic worldview there were but seventy nations in addition to ours).

It was on the following one-day festival that only one bullock was sacrificed on our own behalf. We rightly celebrate our uniqueness, but we are never to lose sight that we are part of humanity; and on Sukkot we pray that all humankind will be blessed with God’s beneficence.

The two full moons complement one another. Even as on Sukkot there are instances when we celebrate our uniqueness and recall the Exodus from Egypt; on Pesach we reaffirm through appropriate readings and discussions, our concern for the welfare of all humanity.

May we continue to celebrate our Jewishness even as we embrace and are embraced by all with whom we share the Sukkah of God’s blessings.

Arnold M. Goodman served as the senior rabbi of Ahavath Achim Synagogue from 1982 to 2002 and is its senior rabbinic scholar. He currently lives in Jerusalem.

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