Praying the Psalms

Archive for April, 2011

A Night of Vigil. . .

Pesach is almost here.  Observant Jews worldwide are preparing for its arrival.  Chametz, leavening, of every kind is being purged from our homes and from our hearts as we wait expectantly for Passover to begin.  The first night recalls the events leading up to the Passover when we were still slaves in Egypt, and reminds us to tell the story to our children and to our children’s children down through the ages.  This is a night of vigil, the eve of our liberation from bondage.

“It is a night of vigil to the Lord for bringing them out of the land of Egypt; this is the Lord’s night, a night of vigil for all of the children of Israel for their generations.” (Exodus 12.42)

This is the night we ask the questions and drink the wine and eat the matza.  This is the night we remember the first Pesach, the Passover.

Everything matters.  Everything has significance.

The four cups of wine we drink throughout the seder mean something.  They signify movement, they are the four expressions of redemption: (1) I will take you out, (2) I will save you from bondage, (3) I will redeem you, liberate you from subjugation, (4) I will take you to me as a people. This is followed by “and you shall know that I am the Lord your God.”  Why then are there not five cups of wine?  Some say that the Elijah cup is the fifth cup.  It signifies what is to come.  When we the Jewish people come to know that the Lord is our God, then Hashem will “bring you to the land, concerning which I swore with an uplifted hand to give to Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. . .“, the land of Israel.

This is not just any other night.  This is the night of vigil.  This is the Pesach.  In a matter of days we will be sitting at our seders recalling the story of our liberation and freedom, our becoming a people.  If not this year, then may we next year celebrate in Yerushalayim!

***Information gleaned from following: Reiner, Y. and Peerless, S., (2002).  Studies on the Haggadah: From the teachings of Nechama Leibowitz. New York, NY: Urim Publications.

**All images were googled from stock photography.

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