Towards the middle of the Passover seder, we come to the phrase “Arami oved Avi – My father was a wandering Aramean.”

The medieval commentator Rashbam says “my father” refers to Abraham. Ibn Ezra and Sforno say this refers to Jacob. What the rabbis do agree on is that all of our early patriarchs were wanderers. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob each went through a phase of exile and return.

On Passover we are commanded, “In every generation, one must see himself (or herself) as if he (or she) had personally left Egypt.” This is because on Passover, more than during any other Jewish holiday, the communal story must become the personal story. It is not just our forefathers who were wanderers, the Hagaddah wants us to understand. We are all wanderers because we are part of the enduring people of Israel.

To be on a spiritual journey means in some way to embrace that we move through the “Mitzrayim,” or narrow-places that we find constricting or oppressive. We continuously search for new Promised Land(s), spiritually speaking. Passover is about connecting to our inner wanderer and making a leap in our personal journey toward freedom.

This Passover, I want to challenge us to engage with the following questions:

  1. Where in my life are the “narrow places” I need to confront and move through, either personally or collectively?
  2. How might cleaning my home and eating matzah and no bread products for eight days become a spiritual practice to remind me of this spiritual work?
  3. Where in my life do I experience freedom most fully? How can I experience more of this?
  4. How can I help others to overcome oppression and its causes in our time?

I wish everyone a meaningful Passover Seder, whether with our community next Monday night at the Atlantis, or in your homes.

Chag Pesach sameach,
Rabbi Bair