(You might read this passage before beginning to tell the “story/maggid” of our liberation from slavery.)
Every night, at nearly the same moment in time, like clockwork, a sacred rite is reenacted in our home. The scenario is always the same. Their teeth are brushed, PJs are on, and we stand together in front of the bookcase. Then comes the familiar plea: “Daddy, read us a story. Please?”
“OK. But just one.” As they sit, one on either side of me, listening intently to tales they’ve heard so many times before, I’m amazed. Why are they so spellbound? They practically know it by heart. What’s this story saying to them now that it hasn’t said before?
Amidst yawns and weary eyes, we reach the end of our tale. And as I tuck them in, both respond in the same way: “Thanks, Daddy. That was a really good story.” As I walk out of their room, I realize why they were thanking me. Their days are filled with new challenges and concerns, wonders and worries that go by without explanation. So many conflicting and competing thoughts buzzing around in their tiny heads, they need a story or two to put it all together, to give the day’s events a sense of meaning before they fall off to sleep. So it doesn’t really matter how many times they’d heard it before. Each time, the story is brand new. It is what they need to hear. Our telling – the Haggadah, our Passover bedtime story – is a sacred rite. But it’s also the same thing. Out of the confusions and incoherence of busy days and years, the words weave a dream of hope and wholeness. We recapture our ability to climb inside of words, to blend dreams and reality, and to affirm our conviction: that beyond the mystery of life, there is meaning.
Rabbi Jeffrey SirkmanThe Passover Story in Film!
Click on the picture below.
Add Your Own Story to the Seder
I love the Seder. I love the way in which our tradition so carefully and caringly helps Jews remember the past without ever becoming bitter over our suffering. The Haggadah lifts us up. The Haggadah urges us to become better human beings.
One way to involve those around your Seder table very personally is to ask them to add their own family's story to the Haggadah. Yes, tell the historic story of our ancestors in Egypt. That is the "official" and crucial Haggadah story. But at some point during the Seder, what if you add your own family's story?"
Invite those around the table to see themselves as part of the historic continuum leading from Egypt until today. Then ask them to share their history as they know it. I might say something like this, "My grandparents came from Eastern Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. On my mother's side, both were from Romania. On my father's side, one came from Lithuania; the other came from Russia proper. All four came to Montreal and experienced the "New World" in very different ways etc..."
You get the idea! You can keep it simple as above or have much more fun by inviting people to fill in the blanks. Give detail. Tell real stories about the real people who populate people's memories. You'll learn a great deal about those around your table and they will in turn feel closer to others.
Over the years, this "retelling" can become a family treasure taught to children, friends, in-laws.
Good luck with your story! Enjoy!
Rabbi Mark Dov Shapiro