As we prepare for Pesach with our family and guests coming from near and far, we search for some novel idea, a thought, an activity or concept to bring meaning to our seder. For some reason, we feel the old is not relevant. We get all uptight with the notion that guests might be bored or that Uncle Joe might fall asleep. We think of how we can shorten the seder or spice it up. We look on the internet and ask friends for any tips that might create some excitement or bring some added meaning.
“Shir LaMalot a song of ascent, I lift my eyes to the mountains from where will my salvation come?”
“From where will my salvation come” sounds very similar to the story of the exodus and the lesson we are meant to learn on this Pesach night — the lesson that no matter how difficult our situation might be “My salvation comes from G-d, the creator of heaven and earth.”
We say in the Haggadah, and the first Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, added: “In every generation and each and every single day one is obligated to see him or herself as if he or she came out of Egypt.” As a community and people we have our generational challenges and as individuals we each have our familial, community and daily challenges. Pesach teaches us that we can, we will and we do overcome these challenges with the help of G-d “the maker of heaven and earth.” He cares for our successes and gets involved in our daily situations to make sure that our feet do not stumble.
Shir LaMaalot, Psalm 121, a song of Ascents. Our world, the universe and life itself is a song of ascent, a song reaching higher and better as our world and life advance to more moral and spiritual places. A song that unites our world and ourselves with G-d Himself, bringing the unity and bliss we all crave.
A song has its higher notes and lower notes, its moments of silence and moments of crashing cymbals. A beautiful song comes together in one great tune harmonized and perfectly sung.
Similar to the soundtrack of a movie — which unlike the movie that has violent and scary scenes as well as uplifting and victorious scenes — this soundtrack is just one large musical, a beautiful tune and symphony that unites the whole story into one great experience.
Songs don’t get boring; a good tune is one we love to play over and over for its beautiful melody and the inspiration it brings.
The same is true for our life story, celebrated on this Passover night. It’s not about the novel idea you will share or the frog you will pull out of your back pocket. The seder is about the song you and your family will sing together, the old traditions, the family love lightly spiced with questions from children and the proper answers from adults. The story of generations of Jews who experienced exiles and salvations and continued to sing the song “that G-d the guardian of Israel never slumbers or sleeps.” The song of life is experienced when the family gathers together celebrating the generational song of grandparents, children and grandchildren, friends and family — all sharing a song of Jewish tradition, values and salvation.
The song is still ascending with a continuous loop of notes creating a deeper and more musical world and life we all enjoy. On this Passover night we sing the songs of Hallel and thank G-d for the wonderful song of freedom, the tune of continued growth, the music of overcoming our greatest challenges. Sit back and relax, for tonight we lean back and enjoy the greatest seder as the old is sung once again with the same voices of loved ones joining in harmony with cherished traditions and new faces.
But the song must be sung each day. Passover is not a moment in life but rather the ingredient of life. We need to add the high notes of mitzvot and learning Torah to our mundane low notes. We need to drive our song to higher octaves and greater crescendos. Let the music roll, and let’s join together for a seder of songs.
Let’s make the greatest crescendo of them all this seder night! L’shana haba’ah b’Yerushalayim!
Have a kosher and joyous Passover. PJC
Rabbi Elchonon Friedman is the spiritual leader of Bnai Emunoh Chabad. This column is a service of the Vaad Harabanim of Greater Pittsburgh.