As I write this, Passover is just a little more than a week away. This year, the first night of Passover coincides with our son’s twenty-first birthday. I suspect that, instead of attending a seder (we floated the idea of his coming home from school to be with us for the first seder), he’ll be drinking a beer, his first…legal beer. That’s one loss for halakhah, Jewish ritual law (beer is clearly not kosher for Passover), and one gain for living within civil law.
I don’t think the Passover narrative is of much interest to him, at least not insofar as it tells the story of the Jews. It may be of greater interest to him as it speaks to and inspires other peoples’ national liberation struggles. Still, my wife and I are fairly certain that he, like his sisters, enjoyed our playful, imaginative seders as he was growing up. Whether we celebrated them in our home or at the homes of our closest friends, we always sought creative ways of keeping the seder fresh and relevant.
Mah nishtana? what makes this night different from all others? the youngest at the table chant. After they finish chanting the traditional four questions, we share our own questions at this particular moment at this particular seder. Question, question, and keep questioning: that’s a Jewish value, embedded in the Passover seder. It’s one of the first things we teach our children: question everything.