The Seder Plate and its meaning
We uncover the three matzot on our seder table and announce, “Let all who are hungry, come and eat.” No sooner do we give credence to our bread of affliction than we turn our attention to those who may have even less. There are many still in affliction, who see no end to their enslavement. The matzah, which sits on our table, will be broken by us and hidden for the sake of games with our children. Our children will know it only as a bread of freedom. However, there are many who cannot offer this hope for their future generations. For what do they hunger? Starvation is a prominent problem in the world. One in nine people on the planet go to bed hungry according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. Poor nutrition causes death for 3.1 million children each year under five years old.
Now we may think that this all takes place in third world countries but Feeding America, a network of food banks across America whose mission is to eliminate hunger, provides service to 46.5 million people in need across the United States, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors. I was unable to obtain the statistic for veterans.
Still physical hunger is but the beginning of need. There is a hunger for safety. "In a world torn by violence and pain, a world far from wholeness and peace, give us the courage to say ...” (Mishkan Tefilah pg 157) you will be safe from my hand. Are we willing to stand for peace: in our homes, in our schools, in our lands, both America and Israel? We all know too well that America has a problem with gun violence, domestic violence and racial divide. War looms large in both countries and will likely not dissipate as ISIL spreads across the Arab lands and beyond with media influence.
There is a hunger for security. Thirty five million human beings were transported around the world in slave trade according to the 2015 Global Human Trafficking Conference. Yes, slavery still exists. Even in America, human trafficking is a big commodity.
Then more deeply, there is the hunger for acceptance. The orange introduced to the seder plate in the 1980s by Susanna Heschel, daughter of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, represents the LGBTQ community who hunger for the right to love and to be accepted as they are. Perhaps we need to find a proper representation for the misattributed meaning of the orange, the struggle for women to be able to fulfill their potential; not part of the misattribution, but I would include, and manage their own bodies. Acceptance is a hunger for people whether they are different because of race, religion, sexual preference, disabilities, poverty or just a bit quirky. We all need to be accepted but we turn aside from the 'other' forgetting that 'others' need acceptance.
Let all who are hungry come and eat. This year, as we begin our telling of the Passover story, let us not pass over those who are still hungry for their freedom. They are still trapped in Mitzrayim, in Egypt, in that narrow space. Ah, but we'll leave that to explore for another time.
Wishing you and yours a Hag Pesach Samayach
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Community educator, choreographer, composer, performer, Becker, M.S.W., M.Ed., M.R.S., Ph.D., serves as rabbi for Temple Emanuel-Pueblo, cellist for Apples and Honey and is a Storahtelling Maven.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ISRAEL
WOMEN OF THE WALL http://www.nytimes.com/video/2012/12/22/world/middleeast/100000001969698/women-at-the-western-wall.html