Tuesday, January 31, 2023

I have always been amazed by the “popularity” of the Pesach holiday. People who may not enter a synagogue more than three times a year will find themselves at a Pesach seder. Jewish families engage in the greatest display of Hachnasat Orchim on this majestic evening as they invite distant relatives, co-workers, friends and even strangers to join them at their respective sedarim.

The question is simple. Why? On this night of questions it is fair for us to ask why people go out of their way to attend a seder. Why is this ritual different from all others? What can we do to build on the momentum that we gain on the nights of Passover?

In my mind and in my experience in dealing with all different types of Jews, I think that every Jew desperately wants to find meaning and connection in their lives. No matter how distant one makes oneself throughout the year, the “pintele yid” desires a comeback of sorts that manifests itself in attending a seder. When the soul hears those familiar tunes, it becomes reignited. When the Jewish person smells the spiritual aroma of the wine and charoset, an awakening takes place. When a person feels the uneven perfection of the matzah, he is transported back in time to when he was one with Hashem and our history. Indeed, the seder night is magical.

How do we as “regulars” capitalize on this unique opportunity? To me the answer is simple. Preparation! Just as we prepare our homes to be “kasher l’Pesach” and we make sure all the Passover delicacies are ready for the meal, we must also prepare for how the seder will run. It is sad when we limp to the finish line and barely make it into Pesach because of all the tedious demands, while having nothing real to offer at the actual seder. It behooves us to invest some time in the days leading up to Pesach to study and prepare material that will be fitting for our seder crowd. There is a plethora of material available to everyone regardless of background or education. If we know someone in attendance does not speak Hebrew, make sure to have English available. See to it that this person is given a “job” at the seder so he or she will feel connected. You may not have another opportunity as golden as the seder night, so it is of paramount importance that you capitalize.

My rebbe always taught me that every Jewish soul is precious and every Jew counts. On this Pesach, let us all do our best to connect as many people as possible to our rich and beautiful traditions.

Wishing you all a freilechin and kasher Pesach.

Rabbi Samuel E. Klibanoff is the spiritual leader of Congregation Etz Chaim in Livingston, NJ.

By Rabbi Samuel E. Klibanoff

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