Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pessah
A Pull to the Past, A Push into the Future!
My laptop computer was old and I wanted to replace it with the latest version!
It made it all the way to three years of age,
Which, in computer years, is a fairly average lifespan.
I decided then to replace it, but not just by another computer,
replacingitwith a laptop, with of course a MAC version, the latest of the latest, which just came out!
Went to an Apple Store, and ended up waiting over two hours in line for it.
This, by the way, was weeks after the new model was released.
But such was the demand and interest for it,
that people waited patiently outside the store for hours.
And when I left, the line was no shorter.
Technology, wears out quick,
This brings me to the not so insightful observation that our culture and society is fixated constantly on new technologies!
They are in grade 8 and they are already at the point where they can say,
" When I was a younger, things were different!"
The truth is the world is changing so quickly, you can be quite a bit younger than my eighth graders and remember a time when technology played a significantly different role in people's lives.
This change is exciting in many ways
It's driving people to stand in lines for hours outside of Apple stores
to be a part of it.
But it also comes with its own set of challenges that affect us deeply, both as Jews but even more broadly as human beings.
And today we can see how one of the things that changed was that:
older people now turn to younger people to teach them.
So grandparents are asking grandchildren for help.
While there have been instances of revolutions led by the young before,
their normal pattern has been for information and wisdom
teaching to go from older generation to the younger.
Parents teach their children and teachers their students.
In that way, when one is looking for guidance and answers one is accustomed to looking historical precedent for wisdom.
If an individual wants to learn something, they go to sources within a tradition.
But the world that we live in now is not memory-oriented, it is future oriented.
If there is a problem or an issue, then we will soon develop a solution to it.
Our world is filled with a tension between reverence for the old and eager anticipation for the new.
And that tension actually finds an expression of sorts in Passover.
• On the one hand,
Passover is a time for powerful memory and recollection.
It is a holiday dedicated to the telling of a story. We were slaves in Egypt and G-D freed us.
• On the other hand though,
Passover is not just about the past, it is about the future.
Redemption is always future oriented.
Redemption means to look with hope at a better world, a world to come.
For the ancient Israelites, the Exodus was not just the end of slavery.
It was the beginning of freedom and a new life.
Not long after the Exodus, the Israelites were at Sinai and there received the laws that would be the building blocks of all future Jewish communities.
Passover is a time of looking ahead.
As we started Passover, we look not just backwards, but forward.
We count the omer, which began the second night of Passover, as we just did a few days ago.
We count for seven weeks until we get to Shavuot, the holiday commemorating the giving of the Ten Commandments.
Passover looks back, but it also looks forward.
And the lesson to be learned from that is that we benefit from such a tension:
a pull to the past and a push into the future.
We gain immensely from studying the wisdom of earlier generations.
That's why the rabbis taught that one of the most important commandments given was
"Honor your father and mother."
The study of Torah gives us sensitive, Jewish eyes with which to view the world.
It teaches us to look out for the "orphan, the widow and stranger," that is, the most vulnerable members of society. That is a lesson to apply today—that no society can be just unless it cares for all of its members. The Torah teaches us that each person was created "B'tzelem Elohim," in the image of God, and therefore we ought to treat everyone with dignity and respect. Ancient Jewish practice, going all the way back to Abraham says that
our homes should be open to guests,
that hospitality is one of the greatest blessings.
And yet they don't fully satisfy us, nor should they.
The rabbis taught, "Who is rich?
The one who is content with what one already has."
After fulfilling our needs, it is good to be content and not always want more things, more fame, more power, or whatever it is.
But a measure of discontent can be a good thing too.
It propels us to make changes for the better.
We can strive for better
to make ourselves better and make our communities better.
This Passover season, may we learn from the past to create a better future, that together we can all progress towards the Promised Land.