Thursday, April 05, 2012

Pesach 2012: Ideas for Seder

Over the last couple of weeks, I have given two classes in Tel Aviv on Preparing for Pesach: Thoughts and Ideas for the Seder. Below are short descriptions and links to the source sheets. I hope people find them useful.

Chag Sameach


Readings on freedom - four readings on different aspects of liberty - one from Tommy Lapid (in the words of his son Yair), two from Amos Oz, and one from Barack Obama. What different (or similar) aspects of freedom do they emphasize?
Click here for the source sheet.

Dayenu. Would it really have been 'enough'? Would it really have been enough for us if some parts of the liberation experience would have happenned but others would not have (the song Dayenu)? Sources from the Talmud, Jonathan Sacks, Amos Oz and others look at the issue of showing gratitude over partial redemption.

In addition, a New York Times piece touches on the challenges of freedom in the form of a North Korean who escaped a concentration camp to flee to the South who sometimes wishes he was back in the camp.

If each of us needs to see ourselves as leaving Egypt, then each of us also need to deal with the challenges that being free poses. How should we do this? I think it begins with eating Matza - that food which is 'on its way' to becoming bread but isnt yet. We deal with the challenges of freedom by celebrating the current partialness of redemption and showing gratitude for it (while still remembering what the end of the story - full redemption - should look like)
Click here for the source sheet.

Does our 'victimhood complex' stop us from being free? One idea of full liberating ourselves from slavery is letting go of hate (if we hate our enemies for what they did to us, we cant be fully free). But might the fact that our tradition often reminds us of the past (in every generation they rise up to destroy u) make it harder for us to fully liberate ourselves? Do we focus too much on the negative parts of our history? Do we facilitate a victim complex? (Etgar Keret once said that he left high school knowing all the places in Europe where pogroms happened but without realizing that Kafka was Jewish). And to what extent, might this prevent us from fully being free? Click here for the source sheet.

Rejoicing in our enemies' downfall (The Plagues and the Price of Freedom) - To what extent can we / should we rejoice in the downfall of our enemies? 3 different stories from the Midrash / Talmud which emphasise different viewpoints.

Writing in the new American Hagaddah, Jeffrey Goldberg has an interesting reading on the plagues. "There is no such thing as an immaculate liberation. From time to time, in the Velvet revolution of the former Czechoslovakia for example – the liberation has been achieved without the shedding of blood. But it is na├»ve to think that the defeat of evil comes without cost. The Exodus story ends in freedom for Jews; the Civil War ended with freedom for African Americans; World War 2 ended with fascism utterly vanquished; and the death camps liberated. Can we say that the ends don’t justify the means?" Click here for the source sheet.

Pour out your wrath? How can we understand the 'pour out your wrath on the nations' part of the hagaddah. And how should we relate to the 'other' in general? Sources from Deborah Lipstadt (who says its his favourite part of the Hagaddah) and from Jonathan Sacks on the 'transference' of violence from humans onto God.

Perhaps we're left with the question of how to best channel our (often justified anger). Goldberg argues that "Anger channelled destructively, can lead to vindictiveness, to a kind of constricting tribalism that sees everyone on the other side of our circles wagons as an enemy. Destructive anger is one of the great dangers of our age…

But isn’t anger also a useful motivator? Isn’t there such a thing as righteous anger? The abolitionists were angry; the suffragists were angry; Herzl was angry; Gandhi was angry. But they poured their wrath not into vengeful violence but into new foundations of justice...

how do we know when our constructive anger becomes dangerous?"
Click here for the source sheet


tuhina said...


Esser Agaroth said...

I didn't see one source I believe to be relevant. I can search for it in TB Megillah, if you like.

Haman ysh"w was getting things ready parade Mordechai around on the king's horse, when he fell.

Mordechai kicked him. (ie. like the contemporary expression "kicked him when he was down").

Haman cites sources regarding how this is assur.

Mordechai corrects him, by pointing out that those sources are concerning Jews only.

Maybe I missed it on your sheet, or you put a similar one on.