Passover Reflection

by Susie Chalom

The Seder is the most-celebrated Jewish holiday on the calendar. For many Jews, the Seder may be their only encounter with Judaism throughout the year. With such wide participation, it is a great educational and religious opportunity.

So what did the rabbis instruct at such an important time? Through the Seder, the rabbis taught about the importance of asking questions. Beyond asking “why tonight is different from all other nights,” the Seder is structured to provoke all sorts of questions, culminating with the “Four Children.” For the rabbis and good Jewish teachers, a question is more valuable than an answer, teaching us to value exploration over discovery — especially in the way we install values in our children.

At our classes at TTSP, students are encouraged to learn by asking questions and relating values learned from the texts to their own lives: In Rabbi Yosi’s classes, students are always asked what questions they have after reading a piece of text. They learn to ask questions as a way of understanding.

Indeed, the Seder teaches us that the highest expression of freedom is asking questions. By asking “why?” we take the first step into freedom.

This year, our Passover seders will be different. In the wake of October 7th, many unanswered questions linger: Why does tragedy seem so woven into the fabric of Jewish history? Where was God on that day? How does Israel connect to my own Jewish identity?

Some people are planning to incorporate new symbols in their Seder to reflect this new reality. For example, an empty Seder plate besides the regular one could signify the painful fact that the hostages are still in captivity during this holiday of freedom and redemption.

May this Seder be a space for catharsis, where we can all ask and grapple with these difficult questions without seeking easy answers. This year, perhaps the most important act is the courage to ask hard questions, boldly.