“In every generation, each of us should see ourselves as having been redeemed from Egyptian bondage.”
— The Haggadah
Rabbis and educators share their rabbinic and scholarly interpretations of the Exodus narrative, but rarely do we direct our attention to children’s perspective of the story.
How does a child relate to this story? While the children ask the four questions, Mah Nishtana, do they feel that the story contains a relevant cause that inspires them?
The child in each one of us must grasp this sacred moment of a dinner and a study session to savor and transmit the experience to future generations. Pesach serves as an experience that lives in the hearts and minds of Jews forever. In the liturgy, the Exodus from Egypt is mentioned every day in the Siddur. Some Jews add the orange to the Seder to remember the essential role of woman in our Jewish tradition.
Each year, the same story and experience is shared and retold at the Seder.
Children should be reminded that prior generations told this same story of the Exodus, and an empty chair should be set at the table with the picture and name of the loved remembered. When the green herb is eaten, one should remember today the importance of recycling and preserving the environment. The bitter herbs, Marror, are later dipped in the Haroset, which may symbolize the bitter consequences of terrorism and hate that still linger in our world and must be sweetened by those who bring happiness and love to society.
The powerful song "Dayyenu," meaning, “It would have sufficed,” is believed to have been sung by the Levities as they ascended the 15 steps to Sanctuary. The number 15, Yud Heh, is connected to the Divine name. May "Dayyenu" remind our children to be thankful for freedom, security and peace.
The powerful experience of dinner being transformed into an interactive question and answer study session between the participants is sheer Rabbinic genius. The foods for thought, the ancient and contemporary stories shared connect the past to the present. Even, the dessert, the Afikoman that is hidden and later reclaimed. The bland taste of the Matzah isn’t forgotten, it serves as a edible symbol that serves to keep the children involved.
These SparkNotes of the Seder reinforce the teaching that whether one is wise, rebellious, simple or unable to ask, the challenge of the leader is to assure that the Pesach story is told and carried in our hearts throughout the year. The Matzah, the basic food, should be properly allocated so that others are not hungry.
As the Seder is about to end, the leader should acknowledge the torch being passed to the next generation. The children who are present will mature and become young adults, hopefully taking that leap of faith to participate in a Jewish opportunity like birthright to visit and experience Israel.
Passover begins on the eve of April the 19th and ends at sundown on Saturday, April 27.