Before launching into this week’s column I hope each and all readers of Hamodia and the totality of Jews had a wonderful and fulfilling Seder. When I say “fulfilling” I mean that it satisfied our time honored halachic requirements and, further, that it satisfied the yearning of our souls. It is a fact that more Jews celebrate a Pesach Seder than any other Jewish observance, except perhaps for Chanukah licht. What this means is that far more than 600,000 Jews are participating in the same event simultaneously, globally and in a sustained manner for one day here in Eretz Yisrael and two in galut. It is said that, if Torah is not being learned even for a millisecond somewhere, the world would cease to exist. Pesach as much as any occasion protects the world from this calamity. We talk the talk of the Haggadah and we walk the walk of Yetziat Mitzrayim together. Though I prefer a traditional Seder with the tunes I learned as a child, and cannot for the life of me understand the need for innovative Seders, I see those who prefer these foreign Seders alongside you and me, the traditional velte, as we leave Mitzrayim — for are we not commanded to treat Yetziat Mitzrayim as though we ourselves are experiencing it? And therefore is not my redemption shared with theirs?
At the Seder we also have seated with us on the Haggadah pages the famous Four Sons, each constituting another quality of the Jewish nation. They seem to me to be an apt metaphor for Israel and the Jewish people: Though I might not like the rasha, be impressed with the simple son, and feel pity for the son who could not even ask, their presence is eternalized in the Haggadah, and they are iconic elements of the Seder.
In the week preceding Pesach, when I observed my fellow countrymen, the ones who do not observe but nonetheless preserve a connection to Torah, what I saw was a nation on “High Alert” because Pesach was coming and everyone was at an accelerated pace, whether it was the shopkeeper or shopper; the driver or the soldier manning a checkpoint; the passenger or the bus driver. Everyone was preparing for Pesach, even in the most quotidian way. I was not surprised by this, because this is the way of life here in Israel. On a Friday I am greeted with a “Shabbat Shalom”; Sunday brings a “Shavuah tov”; and depending on the season, the appropriate holiday brachah. I have been wished a Holy and Kosher Pesach and a wonderful Seder from the most unlikely sources. I enter ANY store or office in Yerushalayim and I pass a mezuzah with the very same words on a comparable klaf to what is found on the right doorposts of my home.
What I am getting at is that this is the “Why” of why we live in Israel, it is the reason my wife and I have chosen to live here, despite difficulties and differences with the government and its policies. We live here to be in a nation of Jews, even if it is not yet altogether Jewish in spirit. We build in order to be built. We dwell amongst Jews in order to be inspired and with Hashem’s help be an inspiration to others. Like alternative Sedarim, I don’t get many so-called “progressive” ideas about Judaism. Between you and me, I am much more a herring kind of guy than a sushi savant. But the point is not what fish I like at the kiddush or what fish the other guy likes, it is that we are eating it together, preferably with a l’chaim, when I can reach into my heart and see past the colorful tattoos of his choosing and see the spark of the Eternal that he and I share. Do not be fooled and accept claims that there is no achdut, do not sell Klal Yisrael short, for it was on the transcendent holiday of Pesach that the Holy One, Blessed be He redeemed us all, even the ones we don’t like or understand.
I hope you all had a wonderful Pesach, and I hope to see you all Next Year in Yerushalayim.
Meir Solomon is a writer, analyst and commentator living in Alon Shvut, Israel with his wife and two children. He can be contacted at msolomon@Hamodia.com
*In honor of G. Solomon, always with us.