Entering Pesach, Commanded to Live Free
(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Today was a terrible day. A shotgun-wielding man opened fire at two Jewish sites in suburban Kansas City, killing three people, including a teenager and his grandfather. It's beyond awful. And totally in synch with so much that is wrong around us. Many of us are raging, but we know, deep down that healing's only going to happen when we, along with other faith communities and civic leaders, make a stand on behalf of a more noble society. If you are interested, I wrote the following two pieces in the immedate aftermath of today's tragedy.
- A Prayer in Light of the Shootings in Jewish JCC's and Assisted Living Centers in Kansas
- Evil Shall Have No Power, Nor Shall Death: A Chad Gadya of Rage
Pastor Michael McBride, my brother and teacher, reached out with comfort and strength today, as did many others. I shared with them, and I share with you, my conviction that the strength of the emerging voice for sanity on our streets depends upon the volume of the love. And, thank God, love is stronger than death. It is upon us to affirm that by loving every more fiercely, cultivating joy in the face of sorrow and healing in the face of hatred.
Today was also a beautiful day, where in the midst of feverish preparation for Pesach, dozens of community members visited Shiva homes, caring for each other, comforting each other. In just a few hours, many of us will gather at shuls to mark with gratitude that we weren't included in the Plague of the Death of the Firstborn. How unfortunate that that message rings so resonant today.
But it's a mitzvah to experience joy for Passover, thank God. Joy is commanded. Were it not, sometimes I'm not sure it would happen at all. So, whether it comes spontaneously or ritually, Chag Sameach! We're alive. We've emerged from slavery. We are blessed in so many ways.
So, friends, let's not lose the pain, the rage, the hurt - or the joy - that life contains. Every Jewish generation is called to see itself as emerging from Egypt, from constriction to expansiveness. Some of us had a hard time breathing today, and with the love and care of a community dedicated to furthering life, to deepening joy, we will breathe deeper and deeper with each passing day.
There is mourning and magic in the air. A roasted egg reminds us of the Temple's destruction, and Miriam's and Elijah's cups indicate our hope in the future, a future of peace throughout this fragile world of ours. We are, and will ever be, a People who know pain and redemption. Our journey draws from the former and demands nothing less than the latter. And so we say this year, louder than last: LeShanah HaBa'ah BiYerushalayim! Next year in Jerusalem!
May life and liberation come soon and in our days, to all people, everywhere.