Rabbi Joshua Heller’s 2022 Passover Message

Rabbi Joshua Heller’s 2022 Passover Message

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

Rabbi Joshua Heller is the senior rabbi at Congregation B’nai Torah.

Rabbi Joshua Heller
Rabbi Joshua Heller

The most basic premise of Passover is that we reenact crossing over from slavery to freedom. The seder teaches us that, after a terrifying night, we will be better off at dawn than we were at nightfall. In some ways, Passover 5782 is a testimony to that lesson.

It would seem that we have returned to the seders of yesteryear, with the opportunity to join joyously with loved ones.

On the other hand, this night is not so different from other seder nights, as we are also revisiting some of the challenges of Passovers past. I remember the seders of my youth, when “Let my people go” was also a rallying cry for the freedom of Soviet Jewry.

At our seders we will again be offering prayers for the wellbeing of the Jews of the former Soviet Union, Jews of Ukraine and Russia, trapped on opposite sides of a deadly conflict, or fleeing for their lives just as our ancestors raced into the desert ahead of Pharaoh’s army.

When our ancestors opened the door for Elijah, there was always the chance that it would reveal rampaging crusaders, inquisitors or the stirrings of a pogrom. In the seder, we recite “ela shebechol dor vador omdim aleinu l’chaloteinu” — in every generation there are those who seek to destroy us.

We are blessed to live in a time where our Jewish people have more friends than ever before, but our enemies on the world scene and in American society are newly emboldened.

A deeper lesson of the seder is that Jewish history is a cycle. Every year there is a new Egypt (or an old one). Passover does not promise that this last year’s liberation would be permanent. The seder assures us that whatever the plagues and pharaohs of the current year, God will redeem us.

Rabbi Joshua Heller is the senior rabbi of Congregation B’nai Torah.

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