Click the player and hear Rabbi Wise’s Additional Comments About This Week’s Message
Where are you from, originally?
It’s a question we ask people as we are getting to know them. Sometimes their accent or dialect of English gives them away, and sometimes they grew up not far from where they now live, but everyone has roots. And we’re often interested in tracing the path back to those roots, with others as well as ourselves.
On Pesah, we ask this question at the beginning and end of the festival. We begin with the seder, at which we tell the story of our humble origins. We are all from Egypt in our core narrative, and at the sederwe are required to return home so we can leave home. Then, at the end of Pesah, we again unearth our roots, this time at Yizkor. Those who have lost parents remember them, and those who are still blessed to have both parents can’t help but imagine what it’ll be like to haveYizkor obligations one day in the future. Yizkor takes us back to where we are from, originally.
During Hol Hamo’ed, I was cleaning some old files off my desktop computer, and stumbled on a picture of 44 Langholm Drive, Downsview, Ontario–my first home. We moved from that house when I was in fifth grade, and the last few times I tried to take our kids past the house I got hopelessly lost. But it’s strange how the pull to return to our roots has such gravitational strength. Right between the seder andYizkor, I felt pulled.
If the seder and Yizkor are to be mere exercises in nostalgia, though, we’re in trouble. When we say that someone is “living in the past,” it’s not a compliment. So what is the point of going back to where we’re from, originally? And how do the seder and Yizkor make this trip down memory lane productive?
We’ll talk about this more on Shabbat morning, the last day of Pesah, before Yizkor. But for now, consider the words to this song and watch the video below (but not on Shabbat or Yom Tov, please). What’s the connection between this song and Pesah?
Wishing you Shabbat Shalom and Hag Sameah,
Rabbi David Wise