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Pesach VII

April 21, 2022
21 Nisan 5782
Pesach VII
6th Day of the Omer

As we approach the end of the Passover holiday, my thoughts turn to all of the scurrying about that traditionally occurs before the holiday begins. By the time we finish scurrying, it is time to begin the Seder and we settle in for a week that is different from most other weeks. The difference reveals itself in the food we refrain from and that which we eat, the weather that seems to be as unreliable as the wind, and possibly, just possibly, taking a little time out to reflect upon the meaning of this spring holiday, a holiday meant to give us hope in even the most tenuous of times.

Although emblems of hope are found throughout our liturgy, it is especially powerful that we find two very different visions of hope on Passover. One is found within the Song of Songs, which vibrates with love and birth in almost every passage. Its inclusion in our Bible marks its popularity with the people and its interpretations by the Rabbis mark the many ways that such a sensuous love poem is brought into line as either a metaphorical midrash of the holiday of Passover or as a metaphor of the love between the Divine and the chosen people. 

No matter which lens we use to explore Song of Songs, what comes through is the power of love, both human and Divine.

“Walking through the walnut orchard,
Looking for the signs of spring,
The pomegranates – have they flowered?
The grapevines – are they blossoming?
(Song of Songs 6:11)

Then we have the haftorah for the last day of Passover -- Isaiah 10:32 -12:6. It contains within it the imagery of the wolf lying down with the lamb and the infant being unafraid to reach into the serpent’s nest. I look forward to chanting it this Shabbat, as it contains within it hope for better days. We do not know whether Isaiah believed in a messianic future. However, we are challenged by this oft quoted vision of peace. It is a vision that we have never been witness to; yet, it is a challenge for all of us to reach toward. We know that human beings will never be perfect but we cannot let that get in the way of striving to create a better world -- if not for ourselves, then for the generations to come. The image of the wolf lying down with the lamb may not be something we can attain; however, it should not block us from trying to create a world where violence and injustice do not reign.

As the Passover week begins to draw to a close, may we look to these texts of love and hope as tools to take with us as we go forward.

With blessings for a good end of Chag and Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi LInda Shriner-Cahn

Sat, December 3 2022 9 Kislev 5783