Note: With the way Pesach falls this year, many publications originally weren’t sure what to do for their pre-Pesach editions. Some decided to print their main Pesach edition last week, March 31/April 1, and some decided to print one for this week, Erev Pesach, even though it would mean a lot more work for all involved. If you’re reading this piece in our print edition, you will know that we at The Jewish Link chose to print a full Pesach edition this week for your Pesach reading pleasure, along with our second-ever pull-out Chol Hamoed Activity Guide. What that meant in practice was that we had to work on two very large editions in one week because the only way to ensure that this paper got published and distributed before Pesach was to go to print this past Monday. And going to print on a Monday meant that all content and ads were due the prior week, which is something we have only done once before in our 10-year history. But we did it…and hopefully you will be happy with the result.
I promised my editors and myself that I would write something for our big Pesach edition that would be both a final reflection on our paper’s 10th anniversary, celebrated a few weeks ago, and would also be connected to the upcoming chag of Pesach. So I thought and thought and kept thinking and kept coming up empty. Thankfully, I was rescued this past Shabbat afternoon while listening to my shul’s Shabbat HaGadol drasha delivered by Rabbi Larry Rothwachs. While I won’t review his entire one and a half hour presentation here, I will try to restate intelligently a few of his words that are relevant to this piece.
In the drasha, Rabbi Rothwachs started by asking a relatively well-known Haggadah question, which is: Why did the chachamim choose to relate the story of Yetziat Mitzrayim with four pesukim from Parshat Ki Tavo in Devarim (the pesukim featuring “Arami Oved Avi”), which tell the story of the Exodus in a pretty short fashion and not from much earlier in the Torah in Shemot, when Yetziat Mitzrayim actually took place. A second question raised is: What is the connection between Pesach and the bikkurim (the first fruits), which is the context in which these pesukim are cited in Ki Tavo, as they are part of the proclamation used when bringing bikkurim.
Although the rabbi gave five answers to the above questions and hinted at many more, I will focus on only one of them. And that answer begins with the notion that the commandment behind bikkurim expresses the profound attribute of gratitude. When a person looks at what his fields have produced and recognizes that everything he has comes from God, for that, we need to be thankful and grateful. The rabbi explained that on the Seder night we need to be able to channel that selfsame bikkurim-generated attitude of gratitude, so to speak. We need to be able to be “makir tov” and ‘recognize all of the good’ in our lives and with our family and with the Jewish people in taking us out of Mitzrayim.
And hence the tie-in to our 10th anniversary. You see, over the past few weeks, we have received many warm messages of chizuk and thanks for the role and importance of The Jewish Link in the lives of so many. And just this past week, I received the email below from the head of one of our community’s critically important organizations, a true community builder in her own right, whose identity I won’t share here.
She wrote me:
I was walking around our building and stopped in to check on what was going on and to take some pictures. The two 10-year old kids who were volunteering and helping out immediately and excitedly said, “Oh!! Can we please be in The Jewish Link?!”
A belated mazel tov on your 10th anniversary. You have really created an entire culture, united the community and given many institutions and organizations an opportunity to showcase and communicate the important and inspiring work that they are doing. Continued strength and hatzlacha!
I was really touched and taken with this email and shared it around with our staff. Interestingly, before our 10th anniversary came around, our editors and I had a long-running joke about how we always received far more emails, calls and texts criticizing different items we published than those filled with praise and saying thank you for something we published. The ratio was something like four or five to one, negative to positive. And in fact I always saved all of the positive and praise-filled messages in a special folder because I thought that one day, I would print and frame them and hang them on our office walls. (I haven’t done that yet.)
I will confess that it bothered my staff and I to varying degrees that the negative comments always seemed to outnumber the positives. But now that we have made it through our 10th anniversary and received and published so many great messages on the positive side, I am not as bothered and I hope our staff feels similarly. I feel positively energized by the many messages sent to me and our staff and published in our paper, hopefully they are enough to keep us strong until our chai anniversary and well beyond.
Although a part of me wishes that it didn’t have to be the occasion of our paper’s 10th anniversary to be the primary catalyst for this powerful reminder of how much we have to be makir tov and grateful for here at The Jewish Link, I recognize that this is part of the human experience. We often need milestone events like birthdays and anniversaries, and for us as observant Jews, our Yomim Tovim like Pesach, to be able to take stock of what we have and how much we have to be grateful for.
So I head into the first days of Pesach and the Seder nights with a profound sense of “recognizing the good” / hakarat hatov as the publisher of this now-10-year-old paper. I always like to tell people that I feel blessed to be the publisher of The Jewish Link and how special and dynamic our community and readership is. Our anniversary experience only reinforced this feeling within me. And I believe this attitude of deep gratitude will only hold me in good stead as I try to experience the Seder fully with my family and think more broadly about our Jewish nation and all that Hashem has done for us. It’s really not that big of a leap!
A chag kasher v’sameach to you and all of our readership!
By Moshe Kinderlehrer, Co-Publisher