by Cantor Lorna Wallach
I must admit that every year just after Purim, I start to get that anxious feeling in my stomach as I anticipate getting ready for Passover! It’s hard to not get caught up in making cleaning the house,
food shopping and cooking for Passover the main focus of how we prepare for the holiday. It takes a lot of work to get ready for Passover! For many, the physical tasks that we engage in become part of the religious and spiritual experience of Passover, but for others, it is difficult to reach a point of joy, hope and renewal during this season, and all the more so during a Pandemic which we’ve been dealing with for over a year.
In an article that I had read related to Passover, Rabbi Daniel Nevins examined the circumstances that allowed Moses to be able to sing and to celebrate when the Israelites left Egypt. Rabbi Nevins says that once the people believed in God and showed confidence in Moses, they gave him the confidence and strength that he needed to be able to sing and to rejoice. In contrast, we see examples in the Torah that when the Israelites refused to listen to Moses, he became tongue-tied and more aware of his disability. Rabbi Nevins takes this concept a step further in applying it to our prophets. A prophet, he says, draws strength from the people. This is the meaning of Deuteronomy 18:15, “the Lord your God shall raise a prophet from your midst like me — to him shall you listen.” A prophet needs the support of the community in order to do his work.
While I’m no prophet, and I don’t dare compare myself to a leader such as Moses, I thought about how this relates to my life, and probably also to many of us. I will struggle like many of you during this Passover season, especially after this difficult and challenging year, to better understand what it really means to be in a period of redemption; to free myself of the negative influences in my life and to let go of whatever I feel is holding me back.
However, not unlike Moses, I have gotten so much strength and support from this wonderful community, even via Zoom, that I am able
to focus on singing (to God) and rejoicing, rather than on the challenges that I and all of us have faced and will continue to face. It is my hope and prayer that as we celebrate z’man cheiruteinu (our time of freedom) this Passover and that, going forward, we as a community will give one another the strength and support that each of us needs to lift our voices in song to God and to rejoice.
Michael, Shira and Joshua join me in wishing all of you a Hag Pesach Same’ach! May your Pesach celebration, in whatever way it takes place this year, be filled with joy, meaning and hope!
To contact Cantor Wallach, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to join Cantor Wallach on Zoom on Tuesday, March 16 and 23 from 12:00-1:00 p.m. to learn some Passover melodies old and new in preparation for Pesach 2021.
This column first appeared in the March/April 2021 edition of The Bulletin.