Wednesday, August 27, 2014 Elul 1, 5774

Storytelling Can Lend Extra Magic to the Exodus Saga

March 22, 2012 By:
Dasee Berkowitz, )Jewish Telegraphic Agency
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New York

 
During the Passover season, we all become storytellers par excellence.
 
The Exodus from Egypt is one of the central Jewish storylines. At the most basic level, we are commanded to "tell your child" the story of the Exodus and "all that the Lord did for me when I left Egypt," as it says in the Haggadah. But if we were only to tell the literal story, we would open up the book of Exodus and begin reading. We don't.
 
With our Haggadahs in hand, we weave together a powerful story, filled with its own kind of magic, which includes rituals and texts that date from the Bible, the Mishnah and the Midrash.
 
With the stated goals that "in every generation one should see oneself as if one had [personally] gone out of Egypt," we are invited to add our own voice to the story. In fact, the Haggadah states, "all who expound upon the Passover story shall be praised."
 
So, how will the Exodus from Egypt become relevant to you as you retell it this Passover? What will be your way?
 
Are you a parent or grandparent wondering how you can make the ancient tradition come to life for your children and grandchildren?
 
Seder night is the quintessential teaching tool. We encourage children to ask questions and seek answers. Toward the very beginning of the maggid, the "telling," are the Four Questions. When the youngest at the table (whether a toddler, a teenager or a young adult) reads the questions, create an opening and see what kinds of questions the children might have about Passover. For the young ones, it might be about what they see on the seder table (add some things to pique their interest, like candies or plastic frogs).
 
Are you a spiritual seeker?
 
Focus on your preparation for Passover this year. The ritual of " bedikat chametz," searching for leavened bread, offers a perfect opportunity. Chametz symbolizes excess and all that "puffs us up." By contrast, matzah is simple food without any of the extra leavening to complicate matters. Passover is a time to return to simplicity. As we dust away the crumbs in our search, consider the things that "puff you up" or get in your way of connecting to your true essence. Then take those last pieces of crumbs and burn them the next morning. This cleansing of your home might take on a purifying aspect for you personally.
 
Are you unhappy with the status quo?
 
Just think about how many questions there are throughout the Haggadah. The Four Questions at the start of the seder, then another set of questions that the four children ask. The questions aren't placed there just to engage children. Asking questions is a profound act; it signifies that we are unsettled and eager to move things forward. Asking questions is liberating.
 
What questions do you have for yourself this Passover that can make steps toward change?

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