Pesach 5783: Connecting to the Past and Present

A Journey Toward Redemption and Liberation

Faith Brigham Leener | Chief Innovation Officer
March 28, 2023

As I sit here in my Brooklyn apartment, marveling at the many sources of Torah coming out from Pardes and attempting to share my own words of Torah, I can’t stop thinking about what’s happening in Israel right now. All week, we’ve witnessed hundreds of thousands of demonstrators flood the streets to “pray with their feet” (to borrow from Frederick Douglass later adapted by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.)

No matter where you fall politically, it’s inspiring to see so many people – including much of the Pardes student body and faculty – using their bodies to physically show up for what they believe in. And this doesn’t feel so far removed from the Passover story. Imagine what it must have felt like for the Jews to grab all their belongings and physically get up to flee towards freedom. They too had an unknown future, and were “praying with their feet” as they marched towards the Red Sea.

This year, as we sit down at our seder tables, I hope that we will both be able to heed the ancient call to (re)experience the exodus of Egypt as if we were slaves (assisted by the many amazing resources on this page) and I hope that we will pause to reflect on how these same tensions around peoplehood and liberation still manifest around the world today.

Let us also not forget that while redemption was aided by the seen hand of God, the redeemer of choice (Moses) was a complicated figure who struggled with his speech and imposter syndrome. Sound like anyone you know? See any of that in yourself?

Redemption and liberation are clearly the result of both individual and collective efforts – you can’t have one without the other. And still, you don’t have to be perfect to have an individual hand in redemption. You just have to take one step forward. One small prayer. So on this Passover, may we be blessed with meaningful sedarim, imbued with a deep visceral connection to yetziat Mitzrayim, past and present, and may we each have the courage to take one small step forward

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