Saturday, March 31, 2007

Why is the night unlike all other nights?

Usually as Easter approaches my mind is filled with important things such as what will I wear to church, does Nix have new white shoes, will I be able to find a ham to cook for lunch, and lets not forget those Easter Bunny baskets I have to put together. I hope you all know me well enough by now to know that I also set aside time to rejoice in the excitement of Reserection Sunday, and all that it means. I have to admit that with all that going on I rarely stop to think about the meaning behind this week. I'm talking about Passover. Jewish families all over the world are getting ready for their Passover Seder. Even though I am not Jewish (by religion or descent), Passover is still an important part of my religion as well as history in general. If you aren't fimilar with a seder it is a meal in which the elders of the family tell the children a story from history and answer questions about the past. A Passover seder tells the story of when God helped the Isrealites escape from Eygpt and their lives of slavery. This exodus marked the birth of the Jewish nation. It is tradtion to have the youngest person at the table to ask 4 important questions. All the questions start with "Why is the night unlike all other nights?" and then continue on to describe something that makes that dinner unusual. It starts with asking why you are only allowed to eat unleaven bread. The Jews left Eygpt in such a hurry that they didn't have time to wait on bread to rise, so they took it from the ovens still flat. You eat bread without yeast in it to remember their haste.Why are there only bitter herbs? To remind us of the bitterness of slavery.Why do you dip your herbs twice into salty water? First to turn tears into joy and the second time to ease the bitterness of loss and suffering.Why do we lean back in our chairs? During the time of slavery the slaves were required to eat standing up or, at best, sitting upright. Reclining in your chair to eat is a privilege of a free man.After these questions have been asked and answered, the children are encouraged to ask other questions they might have about their family's faith. There are 15 steps to a Passover Seder, each one rich in tradition and meaning. I often wonder if in the business to prepare the meal, Jews lose sight of the importance of this tradtion in the same way many Christians forget to enjoy the importance of Easter. It usually hits me about the time the paster stands up and says "He is risen!"He is risen indeed!I may not hold a jewish style seder in my home this year, but I am going to make a point of telling the story to the children and encourging any questions they have.

p.s. my spell check wasn't work, so please ignore any typos.

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