This wonderful time, the most joyous time of the year has come…The sun is high in the sky…. the air is free and fresh, soft and clear. On the hill are the first sprouts of spring grass – tender, quivering, green…With a screech and a flutter of wings, a straight line of swallows flies overhead, and I am reminded of the Song of Songs. “For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing is come.”
These are the words of Shalom Aleichem that we read a few Sundays ago at our Community Passover Seder. We had 70 participants from throughout the community. We sang, told stories ate ritual foods and had coffee and deserts. The building was filled with singing and a spirit of renewal and rededication to our traditions and to each other.
This year, our Seder was held against a backdrop of news filled with anger, hate and rancor and divisiveness – especially featured in our recent election and our current politics. But we have also seen a renewed and reawakened spirit in the country. The fight for decency, justice and love has taken on a new energy.
The Haggadah teaches that in every generation, new pharaohs arise to oppress and endanger us. And in every generation, every human being must work anew toward freedom.
Passover is about renewal. Rabbi Mendy Uminer reminds us that the Hebrew word for month is ‘Khodesh’, which comes from ‘Khodosh,’ the word for new. That’s because every month in our lunar calendar is launched by the arrival of the ‘new’ moon.
Uminer writes, “We know that the moon isn’t actually ‘new’; it’s obviously existed for a very long time. But it disappears from view every month, and then returns. And every month, we celebrate our restored appreciation and consciousness. We go outside, look up at the moon and recite a blessing in which we thank God for this celestial boon to the universe.”
The Haggadah teaches that we need not accept the world as it is. We can make it better.
We can take a cue from the new moon. We can look at our spouse, friends, families, job, or home with renewed appreciation and excitement. We can feel so blessed by the constants of our life that we thank God for our good fortune, we infuse an exhilarating burst of beauty into our day. We can remember that our neighbors, fellow citizens, even strangers are God’s children who struggle with the same challenges as we do. Let’s renew our embrace of the things we know are good – decency, democracy, fairness, justice, humanity. Perhaps even, renewed faith in God.
The moon’s monthly renewal is not only the basis of our lunar calendar, but also an important reminder. Renewal is the stuff of life. The moon is new every month. The earth comes back to life every spring. This Passover, let us start again – fresh and free.