Sunday, August 9th 2020   |

Off the Pulpit: Freedom first


Passover is done, but may I bring one more word about matzah?

Rabbi Simcha Bunim, a great chasidic master, once pointed out the strange sequence in the seder. Matzah represents freedom and the bitter herbs slavery. The seder begins with the Israelites enslaved. Why then do we eat matzah before maror, the bitter herbs?

His answer was that we need to appreciate freedom before we can understand the bitterness of slavery. Matzah must come first. When we lament that we are trapped at home, it is because we understand the joy of being able to go where we wish. Every grievance is the flip side of a gift. We are sad now because we know the joy of earlier times.

Rabbi Bunim was teaching us the art of appreciation even in a difficult time. Although the lesson was from Passover, it remains powerful throughout the year. Gratitude before grievance. Let’s remember that the seder ends in freedom, in the matzah of the afikomen. We cherish the hope that the pandemic will end in freedom and safety soon.

(Rabbi David Wolpe is the senior rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.)

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