“On that day tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’” — Exodus 13:8
This month marks one of the most ancient and holiest of Jewish celebrations, Pesach, or Passover. It is a celebration of God’s redemption of His people, Israel, from bondage, and freedom is a theme underlying the celebration. Please enjoy this collection of timeless devotions from my father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, on this sacred observance. – Yael Eckstein, President
Do you remember what it was like to be a small child? Young children are eager to explore the world, to learn and grow. Little kids can be angry or sad, with tears running down their precious little faces, and the next moment they are all smiles and sunshine. Children know how to live in the moment. They don’t worry about where their next meal will come from. They fully trust that their mom, dad, or caretaker will see that their needs are met. They have simple faith and a love for life.
A central part of the Passover celebration centers around the verse that commands: “On that day tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’” This directive instructs us to teach our children the Exodus story every year. However, the Jewish sages offer another interpretation; it can also mean, “On that day tell your child – your inner child . . .”
The goal of the seder is not just to teach the next generation that God is faithful, all-powerful, and all-loving. It is also to teach ourselves and reconnect with the children we once were – full of simple hope and faith.
Rachel Bluwstein Sela, known as Rachel the Poetess, was an Israeli poet who lived in the Holy Land in the early 1900s. Though she herself never had children, she wrote this beautiful poem about her observation of children:
If we could be but children, small children
Blessed is He who could make us forget the
distress of our years.
With a long road yet ahead to our becoming,
Becoming older, sadder, and nostalgic.
But rose-souled children
Plucking joy like wildflowers
Whose world is not yet over,
With the sun laughing in the glint of their tears.
If only we could connect to that childlike innocence that we once possessed. And on seder night, we can. We can teach our inner child that hope still exists. We can remember that no matter how old we are, the rest of our life can be the best of our life. We can reconnect to our Creator with simple faith, knowing and believing that all our needs will be met, whatever comes our way.
In the Jewish tradition, Passover night is called leil shimurim, which means “a night of protection.” On this night we recognize that God is protecting us at all times – so why should we fear? This Passover, let’s strive for those childlike “rose-colored souls.” Let’s clear away the gray clouds and darkness that settle into adult life.
Tell your inner child about God’s miraculous salvation and be inspired to trust and pluck “joy like wildflowers” again.