An update to the Haggadah
Rabbi Ferenc Raj, rabbi emeritus of Beth El in Berkeley, is a Rescued Child, rescued by Raoul Wallenberg in Hungary. From him I learned the following blessing that can be added to your haggadah. You can open your front door and say it out into the world or just say it to your assembled friends.
Pour Out Your Love
Pour out your love on the nations who have know you and on the kingdoms who call upon your name. For they show loving-kindness to the seed of Jacob and they defend your people Israel from those who would devour them alive. May they live to see the sukkah of peace spread over your chosen ones and to participate in the joy of your nations.
Why is Passover so Popular a Holiday?
Two SF Chron articles have stated, mistakenly, that Passover is the most observed Jewish holiday because it is a home based observance. Wrong. ALL of Jewish observance is home based since the fall of the second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 of the common era. There is NO JEWISH HOLIDAY that can’t be done in your home. In fact the rabbis teach that the kitchen table is now the altar for Jewish families. That means YOUR kitchen table, where you eat, and the rabbis hope – bless, rejoice, give thanks and welcome friends.
The reason for Passover’s wide observance among Jews, religious and secular, is that it is our core story – the story of the Exodus. The Hagadah says that we are to teach our children, “this is what the Holy One did for me when He brought me out of Egypt.” We are all to view ourselves as slaves personally freed from Mitzrahim (Hebrew for a narrow place).
On that note, here is a good message from Rabbi Larry Raphael in SF
From the Sherith Israel email letter, Rabbi Raphael wrote this drash (teaching):
I want to share with you a folktale that comes from the Iraqi Jewish community. Jews lived in Iraq from the time of the destruction of the First Temple until recent days. Centuries ago this story was first told:
There was a country where the king was always chosen in a special way. When the old king died, a bird called the “bird of good fortune” would be released. On whomsoever’s head it landed, the people would place the crown making him their next ruler.
Once the bird of good fortune landed on the head of a slave; that slave had been a simple musician who entertained at the master’s parties. His costume consisted of a feathered cap and a belt made of the hooves of sheep.
When the slave became king, he moved into the palace and wore royal robes. However, he ordered that a shack (a kind of succah) be constructed next to the palace and that his old hat, belt and drum be stored there along with a giant mirror.
The new king was known for his kindness and love for all his people—rich and poor, free and slaves. Often he would disappear into his little shack. Once he left its door open and the cabinet ministers saw him don his feathered hat, put on his old belt and dance and drum before the mirror. They found this very strange and asked the king: “After all, you are a king! You must maintain your dignity!”The king replied: “Once I was a slave and now I’ve become a king. From time to time I want to remind myself that I was once a slave lest I grow arrogant and treat with disdain my people and you, my ministers.”That is the Iraqi story and so it is with us each year. We remind ourselves that we were once slaves and were freed by God with an outstretched arm. It is our obligation to remember where we came from as we live our days.