As Passover draws to a close this weekend and the last matzah board is eaten (one hopes) we conclude with the “yizkor” moment of memorial (see this week’s D’var Torah) and prepare to move on. The moving on, in our world, revolves around the period from the end of Passover through Shavuot (this year 11-the eve- and 12 of June). Traditionally we “count the omer”, each day a blessing that is reflective of our agricultural origins as a people. Modern interpretations of this discipline are many. The daily blessing can remind us of our need to be grateful for the blessings of life. There are an increasing number of interpretations and books on revisioning the “omer” period.
But I was thinking as well of a ceremony that comes towards the end of the seder. We open the door for Elijah, that symbol of the hoped for Messicanic Age. We look to see if the wine in Elijah’s Cup is diminished (a sure sign that this is the year!!) and, when we see it is not, we join in the traditional song “Eliyahu Ha Navi”. But, go back to that open door. As we did this at the seder, I began to think that this may also symbolize the opening to our own future. Like the “n’eilah” service at the end of Yom Kippur and the sounding of the “t’kiyah g’dolah”, could this be another way that we can express a message of tradition that we are given the freedom to move forward, to walk through that door into our own future and, thus, in our own way, create our own “Messianic Age”. The ceremony of the open door actually introduces the concluding elements of the seder, which,as you know, ends in hope: “Next Year in Jerusalem”!.
I also came across another very interesting interpretation for this ceremony, one drawn from the Holistic Haggadah.* We noted this Haggadah in a previous blog. The text notes this section can be seen as a moment when we open the door that allows our anger to leave us. The text notes that this section comes around the section in the traidtional haggadah that asks us to “pour out our anger on our enemies”. The Holistic text looks at this moment to speak to the need to pour out our anger: “Holding on to anger is another attachment, another Mitraim.” Holding on to anger, resentment, past hurts can enslave us. Letting them “go”, letting them walk through that door can free us and our souls up so that we can walk into our own future with souls afire and free. Interesting interpretation for next year!!!
Rabbi Richard F. Address
* Holistoc Haggadah. Michael L. Kagan. Lamda Pub. Brooklyn, NY. 2004
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.