Author of "Embracing Auschwitz" and "Mensch•Marks: Life Lessons of a Human Rabbi - Wisdom for Untethered Times." Winner of the Rockower Award, the highest honor in Jewish journalism and 2019 Religion News Association Award for Excellence in Commentary. Musings of a rabbi, journalist, father, husband, poodle-owner, Red Sox fan and self-proclaimed mensch, taken from essays, columns, sermons and thin air. Writes regularly in the New York Jewish Week and Times of Israel.
Thursday, April 9, 2020
TBE Zoom Seder 2020 Outline
As a way of recalling the first (and hopefully last) TBE Zoom Seder, here are my leader's process notes for what was a memorable evening that covered the gamut of emotions.
Judy Aronin started is off with a stirring rendition of "There's No Seder Like Our Seder."
I asked those who were among the most senior elders present to join me in the first line of Kiddush.
After the Kiddush, participants held their kiddush cups up to the screen. What a sight! The we showed other heirlooms and sacred family objects; several of us had hand-made Matzah covers created by our kids when they were at Bi Cultural Day School that looked almost identical. Hmm....
We cleanse our hands from the the impurity of the virus and the paralysis of fear.
*** CHAT BOX MOMENT: How has the ritual of washing hands changed for you these past few weeks?
Karpas – p 10
Karpas—We hold the symbols of spring that remind us that the life of the universe continues its cycle of death and of rebirth. The new green sprouts break through the kittel, the lingering shroud of the snow of winter. Still, we dip the hopes of spring into the salt water of current loss.
PEOPLE CAN EAT!! PASS AROUND NUTS OR CHIPS…. Blessing
RA Haggadah supplement p.2
THE SYMBOLISM OF KARPAS
Why was it necessary to tell us that one must make a blessing on the karpas boray peri ha’adamah, since we are obligated to make a blessing on any food which we consume? The reason is based on a principle of Halakha: for anything which would normally be improved through cooking, we say the sh’hakol blessing when it is uncooked and the appropriate blessing In this case ha’adamah when it is cooked.
Based on this, the Maharil wonders why, if one uses parsley for the karpas, one would say boray peri ha’adamah? There is a great lesson to be learned from the fact that we say this blessing even though we eat it raw. This is an allusion to a Midrash (BT, Sotah 11b): when the Israelite women gave birth in the fields and the Egyptian soldiers would come to kill the children, the ground would swallow up the infants. The Egyptians would then bring oxen to plow up the ground in order to find them. After they left, they broke through the ground and sprouted up like weeds, as it says “I caused thee to multiply as the plants of the field.” (Ez. 16:7) In order to remember this great miracle, we eat greens and recite the blessing boray peri ha’adamah even though it is not necessary to recite this blessing under these circumstances.
*** CHAT BOX MOMENT
1)How do we traditionally explain karpas at the Seder? How does Rabbi Ginzburg tie this symbol into the story of Passover?
2)The Midrash borrowed from the Talmud is fanciful at best. Why offer such a strange explanation for this common symbol? What does it add to the story of the Exodus?
3)In these trying times, how can we find signs of God’s presence in the face of illness and suffering?
4)4. In what way is karpas a symbol of hope?
YACHATZ – larger piece for afikomen
Get rid of that hametz!!
Amanda Geffner and Sophia
CHAT BOX MOMENT: HOW IS COVID 19 LIKE HAMETZ? OR NOT?
In a time of isolation, we must remember that humans are defined by our ability to speak. We cry across the electronic void hurling words of connection to those near and far. It is truelo tov heyot adam livado—it is not good for people to be alone.
We speak of the four expressions of redemption:
Freedom from fear
Freedom to hope
Freedom from inequality
Freedom to care
Ha Lachma p. 12 – we are in the darkness phase
ENGLISH of Ha lachma – Mike and Rita Butterman
*** CHAT BOX MOMENT:
1)What do you consider your promised land?
2)What three objects would you bring out of Egypt?
“Everybody needs an Egypt…
And one long journey
that they’ll remember forever
on the soles of their feet” (Amnon Ribeck)
Araceli and Brendan Aronin
RA Supplement p. 3 bottom
a.What does it mean to “ask questions” when one is celebrating the Seder alone or with a small gathering? What questions might we ask this year to start off the Seder?
b.How is a does a virtual Seder feel different from a personal Seder?
c.Do you think that a virtual Seder will discourage or encourage conversation and questions? Why?
It's the Israelites' last night in Egypt, the night of the final plague, the slaying of the Egyptian first born. (Note: Sources are divided as to whether this plague targeted only males or included females as well.) When the Egyptians learned about this fearful plague, some Egyptian mothers decided to seek refuge for their firstborn in the houses of Israelites. Imagine the Israelites, sitting safely in their homes, and suddenly there's a knock at the door and an Egyptian mother is pleading for the life of her firstborn. Should the Israelites take in the Egyptian firstborn?
Discuss what people present would have done on that fateful night.
Read the following tenth century midrash (Exodus Rabbah 18:2): When Moses said: “I will smite all the firstborn” (Ex. 12:12), some of the Egyptians were afraid and some not; those who were afraid brought their firstborn to an Israelite and said: “Do please allow him to pass with you this night.” When midnight struck, God smote all the firstborn; as for those who took asylum in the houses of the Israelites, God passed between the Israelites and the Egyptians, depriving the latter of life while leaving the Israelites alive.
Message for us…. Not what God did – but what the Israelites did. The Israelites stood up to the divine will to save other human lives!!!!
Rather hesitantly, with small steps, terrified by darkness
Carrying little signs like the wrinkles of passing time,
The transition of seasons, my changing body, the pearls of my longings.
*** Chat Box Moment:
Are the "signs and wonders" picket signs and perseverance? Or are they simply thoughts and prayers? Who do WE stand up for?
Play “If I Had a Hammer" – that’s our response - we welcome Peter, Paul and Mary to our Seder!
Ten Plagues p. 46
Dayenu - p48
RA – p 10
“Two walls of water are on my right and my left
Behind me are Pharaoh’s troops
and in front of me the desert
And perhaps the promised land.
That sums up my life.” (Yehuda Amichai)
P. 52 – Pesach, Matza and Maror – Beverly Stein
P. 54 B’chol dor vador – 55. Read all together and Victor Frankl reading on p 55 bottom
In every generation every one of us is obligated to regard ourselves as though we had gone through Mitzrayim. As it is said, "And you shall tell your child in that day, saying these words, "Because of what the Eternal did for me in bringing me out of Mitzrayim. " Thus, it was not our ancestors alone whom the Holy One, blessed be He, redeemed, but He also redeemed us with them. As it is said, "He brought us forth from there in order to bring us in, that He might give us the land which He swore unto our ancestors."
WINE CUPS ARE RAISED AND WE READ TOGETHER:
Therefore we are obligated, to thank, sing the Hallel, praise, glorify, exalt, honor, bless, elevate and raise our voices for joy to the Holy One, Blessed be He, Who performed all these miracles for our ancestors and for us! He brought us from human bondage to freedom, from sorrow to joy, from a time of mourning to a festive day, from deep darkness to great light and from slavery to redemption! In Your presence we renew our singing as in ancient days: Hallel-lu-yah Sing Hallel to G-d!
Show N’Tell 1 – Passover before during and after the Shoah. Show matzah baking 1943 Warsaw ghetto testimony to 3:59
Show N tell 2 – show family heirloom or other special Pesach object…..
p.58. Miriam’s Cup – Joan Rosenthal reads 2nd cup - blessing
Rahtzah--We wash again. This second washing is different for we have added a letter “heh” to the end of the word. We feel more connected to the holiness of the universe, to each other and to the Holy One, the “heh.” We can now bless our hands by reaching out to help those in need as it says with a strong hand and an outstretched arm you will help lift others out of their Egypt.
RA p. 1) – “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean: I will cleanse you from all your uncleanness and from all of your idolatry.” (Ezekiel 36:25)
*** Chat box question: What activities (or ceasing of your normal activities) have you found to be reviving during these days of quarantine?
In this time of pause from “normal” activities, what societal or personal behavior have you been able to reflect upon as needing to change? What current shifts do you hope will be maintained when we resume life “after” Covid-19? .
p. 59 Motzi Matzah--We need to find (motzi) the matzah. All the blows of the taskmasters can be seen on its pockmarked surface. Yet it has become the symbol of freedom. It reminds us that once upon a time we left Egypt. The only thing we carried with us into freedom was matzah. It was enough-dayenu.
p. 60 Maror --We taste the bitterness of this very moment. For the reality is we never completely leave Egypt nor make it to the Promised Land. We are always on the way. It is in the seeking not the finding that life is lived. Yet, tasting matzah, we are better equipped to confront the bitterness that is our lot.
P.16 RA bitter and sweet
Korekh--The deeper truth is that there is no slavery and no freedom distinct from each other. They are not separate realms. Thus, we take matzah and maror and eat them together, no longer imagining that we can separate them. Korekh means to embrace---to embrace all of life.
Tzafun - Afikoman hidden beneath rolls of toilet paper
Afikoman – an amulet that protected from disease.
p. 68 – should we invite Elijah in???? 14 day quarantine?
4th cup – p.73
Had Gadya with sound effects. Cause effect…cascading events – all our destinies are interconnected and even the slightest act done by the least significant person can make a huge difference.
p. 85 Nirtza – “The seder ends in an outburst of longing.” (longing for the meal!!!)
Nirtzah--The Psalmist says: “open your hand and satisfy every living thingbe-ratzonwith will”. It is a mistake to understand that verse as meaning God gives every living being what they desire. That is not our experience. What wearegiven isratzon—a will to live, to love, and to give. Now we are ready for the journey to freedom that lies ahead.