Why Is This Night?

Why is this night different from all others?

Because - the story tells us - this is the night we celebrate our right to be free. Our exodus from the tyrrany of slavery and bondage. On this night  - we gather and sit and re-tell this story. This one that has been told and re-told time and time again.

It is the story of one Pharoah's attempt to enslave the Jews. It is the story of Moses - born of a Jewish mother and raised by that same Pharoah. How it is that he found himself exiled and in the desert..answering to God's call to set his people free.

It is the story of the 10 plagues - that began with the all of the waters of Egypt turning to blood..and ended with the killing of the firstborn in every Egyptian family.

It is the story of how - in their hurry to leave - the Jews had only enough time to gather their belongings and bread that had not had time to fully rise. When they arrived at the sea - it magically parted...allowing them to cross over into a land that was safe and free. It was there that it began. The long journey across the desert and search for the promised land.

Why is this night different from all others?

It's the coming of spring. It's the passing over. It's a fresh clean start...a new chapter and  a new beginning.

As a young child - I first asked that question...as it is the tradition that the youngest of the children ask.

As an older child - the questions I began to ask were a little different. Yes - I wanted to know 'why'..but the why's were less about the story itself. They were more about challenging the tradition and why this annual ritual and meal? Why the cleaning of every closet and cupboard? Why the need to remove every trace of bread? Why all of this effort and fuss? I was no longer wide-eyed..captivated by the magic...young and innocent.

As a young mother - I returned to my roots and my beginnings. What was passed to me..I passed on to  my own. I watched proudly - as each of my three - had their turn to ask these same questions...that I had once asked myself.

Why is this night different from all others?

Because - on this night we gather. We celebrate. We tell the story of how it is we came to be here on this day. We eat matzo - to remind us of the unleavened bread. We dip our spring greens in water that is salted with our ancestor's tears. We eat bitter herbs so as to never forget. We drink four cups of wine. We recline..because we are free.

Now - as an older mother..and with grown kids of my own. I get to sit back and watch. I'm looking forward to that someday when my children will sit with theirs as I did with mine. To their passing along the telling of this story. That this night will always be a one that is celebrated as different.

It is on this night that we not only honor and celebrate the Passover holiday..but every person's right to be free. No matter the race or religion or nationality or language. We eat and we sing and we honor the tradition.

Year after year. Time after time again. We ask the questions. We answer with the telling of the same story.

Once - it is said - we were slaves in Egypt. Now - we are free.