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A Passover prayer

May we gather, bicker, make crumbs, and laugh together with those we love. And may we ask all the hard questions that we cannot answer, for that too is our inheritance
Old illuminated Haggadah (Presburg 1773). A Jewish text that sets forth the order of the Passover Seder. Switzerland. (Godong/ UIG via Getty Images/ Twitter)
Old illuminated Haggadah (Presburg 1773). A Jewish text that sets forth the order of the Passover Seder. Switzerland. (Godong/ UIG via Getty Images/ Twitter)

Dear God,

Please, this Passover

Let us enjoy the calm that washes over us

as the sun sets

and the singing begins

and the children sparkle.

But let us remember, as we do, that mere kilometers away, the wails of air raid sirens and of children who don’t sparkle are merging in a sickening harmony.

Let us hold ours a bit tighter, and remind them for the hundredth time, in a low whisper, that this world is theirs to fix.

God, let us watch cousins giggling together, and fighting over pillows, and spilling grape juice. Let us remember how much we craved that together when a microscopic virus tore it apart. And how much we hated that year, that the tablecloth stayed clean.

May we always gather, and bicker, and make lots of crumbs with the people we love most.

God, let us be patient with each of the four sons we may identify at our own seder. Let us find the insight to speak to each, the humility to love, sometimes despite, and let us remember that our tradition charges us to retain all of them around our table.

Let us keep all our family’s customs alive no matter how silly they may seem. Let the children laugh at them, and then do them anyway, because it is where we come from. Because they were brought over from a different world and entrusted to us. And because salt-water tastes like the tears we quickly wipe away before anyone notices that we miss her blintzes, and her laugh.

God, give us the wisdom to tell them about our long, and complicated, and chilling history. About libels, and their consequences, and about how dangerous it once was to simply bake matzah. And then, let us encourage them to ask questions, and challenge status quo, and enjoy the confidence that only Jews with a state of their own have ever known.

Let us tell them how the freedom we know now, is different from the first time around. Because it wasn’t achieved through sensational plagues, but through sacrifice, and conviction, and the belief that if it happened before it could happen again, we just need to jump into history’s tempestuous seas.

But, if we have taught them well, then they will ask.

Why, they will want to know, if we are free, does it feel like the waters are still raging around us? They will want us to explain how exquisite, young, smiling friends can be gunned down on Dizengoff, if this is the Promised Land? They will point, in the paper, to the young border policewoman. The one whose eyes beamed from behind her round glasses, and they will ask us to make sense of the fact that her life was cruelly terminated, just as she was getting started. Why are there fresh widows, and orphans, and parents with arms that throb from emptiness — again? Why, they will want to know, can’t this year, finally, be different from all other years?

God, help us find the words to tell them, that sometimes no answer will do justice to their questions. But that they should never stop asking. Because that too is their inheritance.

And then, God, give us the strength to pick up the bitter maror and dip it in the sweet charoset, ritualizing the truth our people have always known.

And bless us God, that our children follow our imperfect, but faith-infused example.

About the Author
Yael Leibowitz has her Master’s degree in Judaic Studies from Columbia University. Prior to making aliyah, Yael taught Tanakh at the Upper School of Ramaz, and then went on to join the Judaic Studies faculty at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women. She has taught Continuing Education courses at Drisha Institute for Jewish Education and served as Resident Scholar at the Jewish Center of Manhattan. She is currently teaching at Matan Women’s Institute for Torah Studies, and is a frequent lecturer in North America and the United Kingdom.
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