Passover’s Open Door

We live in a time of mutual incomprehension. People do not argue with one another as much as serially lecture each other. We listen to anticipate an answer, not to comprehend. Victory has become more urgent than understanding.

Passover reminds us of the practice of genuine discussion. We ask questions, we posit different types of people, recount and try to learn from a story we think we already know. We eat strange foods in part because changing routine is a powerful way of looking anew at the world. We recall our history to teach us that however differently we may think about things today, we all share commonalities in the past.

Judaism is a tradition of powerful convictions; not everything is up for grabs. If you believe nothing, you are not pluralistic but empty. Yet in the midst of believing, Judaism does not ask us to shut our minds to other views and shifting perspectives. Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah learns something new in old age, and we retell his insights in the Haggadah — the model of a sage who never stopped listening, never stopped learning. May his acuity and openness be a model for us all.

About the Author
Named the most influential Rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by the Jerusalem Post, David Wolpe is the Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California.
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