19April

Passover – Renewal, or Making the Old New Again

Passover – Renewal, or Making the Old New Again

Passover begins when I open the Pesach closet and see the dishes, pots and pans, appliances and utensils. This odd, mismatched assortment belonged to my mother-in-law, who used them through the years. Pulling them out of the closet, I can still see my in-laws conducting their sedarim, and hear their voices. The dishes show signs of aging and use: cracks, chips, worn finishes, loose handles etc. And yet, they are new to me every year. 
In many ways, Passover is about making something old, new again.

In her work, Pesach for the Rest of Us Marge Piercy writes: 

“Pesach is a renewal, of our sense of what it means to be a Jew, of our reconnection to our history, of our sense of what we need to change in our lives and in the world at large, just as nature begins to open buds and sprout little leaflets, to unfurl fern fronds, to call the birds back north, to replace dead grass with new growth… it is the season of birth.”

We have to be more deliberate than Mother Nature when it comes to renewal. The seder ritual is ancient, and for as much as it has stayed the same, it has also changed throughout the generations. The modern seder has been renewed by creative songs, new rituals such as the orange on the seder plate and Miriam’s Cup, readings about modern slavery and conversations about current plagues.   

Renewal also pertains to the guests that sit around our seder table. Some of them might be people we see only at holiday times. Perhaps there are those we invite out of habit (‘they’ve been coming for years’) or guilt, or some sense of obligation.  At yet, having old or distant friends at the table is an opportunity to renew those friendships, to pick up where we last left off. Those old friends become new again.

The Sefat Emet, a Chasidic teacher notes that on Pesach, we achieve an existential rebirth. On every Pesach, a Jew becomes like a new person, like the newborn child each of us was as we came forth from Egypt. Within our bodies, our hearts and souls are renewed, activated and inspired each Passover. In spite of growing older every year, we become new again, as individuals, and as an entire people.   

May our joyous celebration of Pesach inspire renewal in each of us, and bless us in the year to come.

Chag Sameach. 

Written by Rabbi Judith Beiner, Posted in JF&CS - Hope and Opportunity Happen Here

About the Author

Rabbi Judith Beiner

Rabbi Judith Beiner

Rabbi Judith R. Beiner is the Community Chaplain at JF&CS. Rabbi Beiner’s core duties are visitations at area hospitals, hospices, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.  She supports local  Rabbis when their members are hospitalized, works with the team of Bikkur Cholim volunteers,and conducts indigent burials. Rabbi Beiner is on the board of the Atlanta Rabbinical Association.