31 March/1 April 2023, 9 Nissan 5783

In each and every generation, a person must view themselves as though they personally left Egypt, as it is stated:

“And you shall tell your child on that day, saying: It is because of this which the Lord did for me when I came forth out of Egypt” (Exodus 13:8).

 This week is Shabbat HaGadol, the Shabbat before Pesach. As we prepare the synagogue for Passover and empty our cupboards of Chametz, we also are collecting Easter eggs for families at the Rainbow Centre – our partner charity. I see Pesach being about radical empathy. We are the children of slaves and wanderers and so shouldn’t that guide our principles now?

It seems most fitting that we would celebrate a Baby Naming this Shabbat as we gear up to emphasise “In each and every generation we must tell…” and so we will welcome him into the covenant and community.

 I’m also reminded of the four children, of the questions, not just of the four Mah Mishtanah questions, but questioning our traditions that permeate the whole Seder. Why does this story matter to us so much?

 Every year Pesach and the story it tells takes on different emphases.  This year I am drawn to this charming statement in the midst of tractate Sotah:

 Sotah 11b:4 Rav Avira taught: In the merit of the righteous women that were in that generation, the Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt.

A shout out to Shifra and Puah, those brave midwives, to Miriam and her mother Yocheved who took such risks for that baby Moses (not unlike refugee families do today for their children, hoping for a better and safer life), and Batsheva, Pharaoh’s daughter who took the baby in and gave him opportunities in life. The midrash says that Israelite women at that time insisted and compelled the men to carry on as usual and to live with hope and joy even when they were downtrodden. There is so much in this story that never fails to lift us, and indeed other peoples who find it the stuff of liberation.

 I love this season and am so looking forward to celebrating Pesach with everyone. Don’t forget to book into our Seder.

 Shabbat Shalom,

P.S The Passover story of courage and resistance – truly speaking truth to power is poignant during these days of watching demonstrations on the streets of Israel and the diaspora in support. The Jewish world and citizens of Israel care deeply about it. As Israel is so much on everyone’s lips right now, including in international news, it feels a good time to remind the community that we will be choosing a new HHD Israel charity this year. We have enjoyed such a productive and inspirational relationship with the New Israel Fund and we invite you to send in your nominations for a new charity that captures the values of FPS and allows us to be in a supportive relationship with an institution there in Israel.