Spring is symbolically a time of new beginnings. The story of Passover, for example, Jewish people begin again as a free nation outside of Egypt. As we look out our windows the world around us appears to be reborn as well. Color reemerges, birds sing and finally scurrying animals can be seen around New England.
But what happens when the beginning is not picture perfect? Edith, Lot’s wife, is the prime example of this struggle in the Torah. She was offered a new life. She and her husband were saved from Sodom and Gomorrah, but she was forced to leave her daughters behind. Her “new beginning” was overcast by the loss of her home and of her children. She is instructed not to look back as she walks away from her past. Is it possible to separate the past from the future? Without looking back is it possible to remember why we are heading forward?
As individuals and as a community, we look back into our history during the Passover Seder to remind us of all who are disenfranchised and still long for equality. We look back to help guide us in our moral movements forward. Edith was denied that right. She turned her head toward her former home only to turn into a pillar of salt.
Personally, reflecting on my life there are parts of my history I nostalgically mourn while there are other sections I happily learn and draw strength from. I am me because of my past, as the Jewish people are Jews due to our cultural and religious history. This Passover let us resolve to work for social justice because no people are truly free unless all people are truly free. We were once chained in Egypt so it is our responsibility to free every person of his or her chains.
A seldom-discussed form of freedom is the freedom to remember one’s roots and to keep one’s traditions alive. So let us also think of all the modern day Edith’s, who are forced to forget their history and abandon their cultural identity in order to survive.
If I look back
And shed but one
For each and every
Moment I no long
Can hold so close
And loved one I ache for
I too would
Turn into a