Many people complain. What’s wrong with them? Don’t they realize? Why can’t they relate and on and on? Some actually take responsibility. They ask, “How can I make this relevant to them?”
The most widely observed Jewish holiday is Passover. By observed, I mean that more Jews participate in a Passover Seder than other holidays. And I know that many have a very difficult time participating because they have a hard time relating to the holiday. This still doesn’t excuse us, though, from discovering the meaning within the Seder and the entire holiday. A friend recently shared his frustration, in particular, with the very last part of the Seder. At that point, half the guests have left, everyone is tired and have lost their patience for things that they find has no relevance.
So what do we do? Many people complain. What’s wrong with them? Don’t they realize? Why can’t they relate and on and on? Some actually take responsibility. They ask, “How can I make this relevant to them?” In my attempt to assist my friend in making the very last part of the Seder relevant, this is what I shared with him. I hope this can enhance your Seder and spark your interest in taking responsibility for the Seder you will be participating in.
At the conclusion of the Seder, we make a blessing and drink the fourth cup of wine. We then announce, Next Year in Jerusalem, L’shana habaa b’Yerushalayim. How can we make this statement relevant to a young generation of Jews who don’t have an appreciation for Jerusalem as a city or for what it represents to our people? Here we go.
Everyone, gather around the table. Stand in your place. This year we’re going to conclude our Seder just a little bit differently. Fill your glass with wine as your fourth glass of wine. Hold it up and close your eyes. Listen to what I’m going to share.
Do you think that the Jews thought about freedom every day when they were in Egypt? I don’t think so. I think they were primarily thinking about getting through their next day, an issue going on in their family or a health issue they were dealing with. Even when Moses first came to them to let them that G-d told him G-d would be taking them out of Egypt, they couldn’t listen. They were too worn out and exhausted to even be able to hear such good news. I used to wonder how they couldn’t hear Moses sharing the message they were waiting for the past 209 years.
You know what, I no longer wonder. In fact, I’ve come to the realization that I am the same way. My ears are closed every single day. They are closed to the very hopes that lie so deeply within me. The visions and possibilities that I once dreamed, the yearnings, the heartstrings that I used to pluck, they have all become dormant, they have quieted, they have lost their voice. They are closed, not because I don’t yearn to hear them, not because I no longer crave for them. They are lost because I have become overwhelmed with life. My mind is occupied with supporting my family, making sure my job is stable and productive, caring for them, providing, making sure the house is supplied, everyone has what they need. Even this Seder was quite an ordeal. It all came together so beautifully and I’m grateful it did. Yet, in all my doing, I haven’t found time to be. To just be me. To be the person G-d made me to be. To express that part of me that is deeper than all the things I do. That place that craves a more real engagement with life, a deeper connection, to experience, at least in some small way, the yearnings of my soul, the feelings that come from plucking the untouched heartstrings of my heart.
We all have something much deeper going on inside of us. Every single one of us. The longer we hide from it, the more difficult it is to uncover. So here we are, gathered again, at the conclusion of our Seder. We will drink our fourth glass of wine. Our sages say that when wine enters, our inner secrets are loosened, they can be released. Following the gematria numerology system of the Hebrew language, the numerical value of wine, yayin, is 70 and the numerical value of secret, sod, is 70. This is deep. So let us pray in hearts that as we drink our fourth cup of wine we reach to deepest depths of our soul. The place where our soul’s yearnings, hopes, and desires are, and let us give them expression once again.
After we drink our fourth glass, let us all say together the very words that express our national yearning, desire, and hope, Next Year in Jerusalem. These words are expressing the yearnings of the soul of our people. That we all be united with our people. That we experience unity and oneness, strong feelings for each other, even those Jews who seem so different. That we live in peace amongst all of humanity. That we clearly experience the presence of the Divine, and that our deepest selves sprout forth, no longer inhibited by our bodily desires and limitations.
Join me in drinking our fourth glass followed by our prayer, Next Year in Jerusalem.