Rabbi Andrea Zanardo

Is this Pesach?

Is this a proper Pesach? Maybe we don't have enough matzah, or very little charoset and nowine at all. The house is not cleaned properly, how strange now that we are all houseboundI have even less time for cleaning. 

Is this a proper Pesach? Where are family and friends? I am so used to being invited, and/or to invite. We always celebrate Pesach sitting at a table surrounded by so many people. This year we are alone. Yes there is Zoom, but seeing each other is definitely not being with each other, in the same room, full of chatter and laughter. 

Is this a proper Pesach?  How can I celebrate freedom when I am stuck at home, in this weird situation - the whole world is in quarantine - I don't know when it will be over ? "Today we are  a   slave/tomorrow we'll be free", but we do not feel free. "Next year in the land of Israel" When will we be able to travel again? 

But you know what? This year can be the real festival of freedom. We are by ourselves, yes,  but this does mean we have nothing to fear if we sing out of tune, or indulge a bit more than usual in that passage of the Haggadah, which has always intrigued us. That friend or relative who always insists on reading that other passage... well, this year  he is not around, which means you can read it – but don't tell the Rabbi!- you don't like that passage? You could skip it or read something else that there is never time to read, because the guests must be home before 11pm!  Not this year, though. 

So, there's a bit of freedom this year, that we have never experienced before.  Plus, we have hope, this year, more than ever, Jews all over the world will be united by the thought of freedom. We will all experience the desire to be free, to walk out of our home, to host and be hosted, Never in recent history have we shared the same hope with the same intensity. 

It does not matter how you decide to celebrate Pesach,  how long your Seder will be and which bits will be included and which will be not. You, we, every Jew will experience the same aspiration to freedom, the same hope all over the world.

It will be evening, it will be dark, we may feel pessimistic but, as Leonard Cohen sings "there's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in". Hope and freedom unify us.

I wish everyone a Pesach of hope. Next year we will be free. 

Am Israel Chai. 


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East Sussex