This is often referred to as our season of freedom, and that's a fitting way to remember our ancestors' exodus from slavery to freedom.
But in this time and place, what does freedom mean? What are we free from today? Whose freedom isn't assured? And for those of us who feel freedom, what is our responsibility to those who are still enslaved in multiple ways?
There are more than enough examples of slavery in our modern world for us to choose from. I invite you to pick one, and consider making it a focal point of discussion at your seder table this year.
Freedom is something too many of us here in the USA take for granted. By owning that, we can begin to think of ways to help those who don't feel so free -- from fear, from violence, from poverty, from self-doubt -- find a way to their own freedom.
This year, I'm going to invite the ideas of Baurch Spinoza to our seder table. Yes, I know that among traditional Jews, Spinoza was excommunicated, put into kherem, and for those traditional Jews the kherem has never been rescinded. For those Jews, reading his works or talking about him -- even just saying his name -- is a no-no. But I am free enough in my personal Judaism to not worry about that, so I'm inviting him, in a sense, to our seder table. What does it mean to be personally free? What does it mean to be other, either because or in spite of that freedom? And how might, as Spinoza suggests, give up ourselves in order to find our Selves -- his ultimate spiritual goal of salvation through pure reason -- in a world where group identity matters so much?
It will be interesting to see where our discussion takes us this year.
May you and yours have a thoughtful and very sweet season of freedom.