Tonight for Shabbat no challah bread. Tonight we make motzi on our matzah bread as we do every night of Pesach. But the contrast between the rich twisted egg bread and our simple matzah drives home even more the message of this Passover holiday. In Egypt we were the poorest segment of society. We were harassed, bullied, oppressed by harsh labor for four hundred years. At an earlier time during the life of Joseph we were welcomed to Egypt and given choice lands to graze our herds. But the scars of four hundred years of servitude took their toll.
As we journeyed forth from Egypt we carried those scars with us. We could no longer remember a time when we hadn’t been slaves. We could tell the tales of our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Joseph but it was such a distant memory. Into the wilderness we carried our slavery and our slave mindsets, our hurts and our deep pain.
But with this Exodus from Egypt we have to learn to be free. Freedom doesn’t just come easily. It too is learned. One must learn to make decisions and stand up for one’s ideals and beliefs. One must learn to have faith and to rebuild the broken spirit.
You don’t have to have just been a slave in Egypt so many centuries ago to have a broken spirit. So many people today are walking through life defeated. The economy and joblessness has beaten up on so many. The violence among young people and the bullying of fellow students like we see in the headlines in Hadley, Massachusetts speaks volumes about the broken spirits and deep scars that seem then to encourage the outlet of violence upon others.
The Shabbat of Pesach helps us with imagine a new and fresh approach. Even though this year it is one of the intermediate days of the holiday we can take the extra glow of Shabbat and combine it with the extra glow of this wonderful holidayand bring a renewal of faith and spirit. Just as God rescued us from slavery we pray that God rescues us from our enslavement and pain.
This Shabbat we will read the Song of Songs. The megillah assigned to Passover. It is a beautiful love story between young lovers. It is a story of passion and erotic poetry. It is filled with images of flowers blooming in spring. The rabbis understood this book of the Bible as a love story between God and the Jewish people with God as the beloved and the Jewish people as the bride. It is a story of renewal and hope and the fresh potential of relationship.
This Shabbat tries to lift us from the darkness of slavery, of isolation, of pain toward the light of being courted and loved and desired. This Shabbat Pesach as we eat our matzah will reminds us of the potential of the journey to freedom.
Today is the third day of Counting of the Omer.