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No matter how far from Judaism a Jew may be, there are two holidays that always awaken the ìpintele Yid' - Yom Kippur and Passover. No matter how far from Judaism a Jew may be, there are two holidays that always awaken the ìpintele Yid' - Yom Kippur and Passover.
What does Seder mean? It means order. There is an order to the night, and thatís what Judaism is all about: order, discipline and commandments. People come to your house for the Seder and some may say, ìIím hungry. ìLetís eat already.' ìNo,' you respond, ìthis is a Seder, there is an ìorder.'
Every table must have a leader - a person who is in charge of the Seder. Like on the TV show, ìThe Honeymooners' for that night, that person is the Jackie Gleason of the house - the ìking of the castle.' Itís usually the grandfather or the father.
Often, youngsters help conduct the service, and this was foretold by our prophets: ìChildren will bring the parents back to G-d.' When parents hear their children asking questions, they begin to study themselves.
Passover is the anniversary of our nationhood, when we celebrate our relationship with G-d. Even as on your wedding anniversary you want to make certain that everything gets off on the right foot, similarly, you will want to make sure that your Seder is as seamless as possible.You donít want to do something that you know your spouse doesnít like, you want this to be a perfect time. You will prepare for the night by studying the Hagaddah ahead of time to assure that this will be a night you will remember with joy and meaning.
All in the Family
At the Seder table, the first thing that you notice is family. Family is so important in life. You might even think that you should do this more often. Itís so nice when the entire family gets together. Passover is a time for repentance, a time to think about life. Itís time to say, ìThank you G-d'. In the same manner that we became a nation who G-d brought forth from bondage, and continues to liberate us from our personal bondage. We should enumerate all the many blessings for which we must be grateful. You may have had a tough year in business, in your relationships, with your health, but you are here at the Seder table, and thatís reason enough to say ìThank you, G-d.'
Public declaration on Passover is very important. In Judaism, when someone does you a favor, itís different than in the secular world in which we say, ìWhat have you done for me lately?' In Judaism, favors are always remembered. When you survive a difficult situation, you should always mark that date as a red-letter day. Every year on that day you should remember that his was the day on which you had some trouble and G-d got you through it.
About fifteen years ago, I had a friend who was shot while delivering money to the bank. He was on the verge of death. A great miracle occurred and he survived, so every year on that date he gathers his family together and makes a public declaration. On Passover night, all of us must recount our personal miracles.
Four years ago, I was at a hotel in the Poconos for Pesach. On the second day of Chol Hamoed, my four year old son was playing and hurt himself. At first I thought it was nothing - then I saw that he wasnít getting up, that he was unconscious. My head started to spin, my heart started to race, I couldnít breathe. In such traumatic moments, itís good to know psalms by heart. ìG-d, please get me through this,' I prayed, and in His infinite mercy, He did. My son recovered and is fine. It happened during Passover, and from that time on, I always say a special thank you at the Seder for the miracle that G-d granted us. Gratitude is one of the pillars of our faith.
Did you ever go to a matzoh bakery? If the mixture of flour and water is not properly made in eighteen minutes, it canít be used. The difference between matzoh and bread is time. There is an expression, Donít let a mitzvah pass you by.' Matzoh and mitzvah are spelled the same way. So donít let a mitzvah get stale. If someone asks you to do a good deed, never say, ìI canít right now.' Donít let the mitzvah pass by.
What ís the Plan?
You also need to bring Seder', order, to your life. Whatís your game plan in the world? What are you going to do with your life? The worst feeling is to wake up one morning and realize that the years are passing and you are nowhere. On Passover night, think about what you can do to make your life more meaningful and the world a better place. Bring some Seder', order, to your life.