We Are Part of the Story
Yael Eckstein | February 14, 2023
“In days to come, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ say to him, ‘With a mighty hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.’” — Exodus 13:14
This month marks the fourth anniversary of the passing of my father, Fellowship Founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. In his honor, I offer you a selection of devotions on the spiritual importance of legacy and leadership.
Most of you have probably heard of the Passover seder, the special ritual feast that takes place on the first night of Passover. But the seder is much more than a feast. Before we ever get to the food, there is a prolonged retelling of the story of the Exodus from Egypt. In some families, this can last for hours, with the meal eaten only very late at night.
Near beginning of the seder, just before the Exodus story is retold, there is a special role for the youngest child. Whoever that child is, and in my family growing up it was me, recites “the Four Questions.” These questions relate to the unique and unusual rituals that we do on Passover. Once the questions are asked, the leader of the seder, usually the father or grandfather of the family, begins telling the story.
Part of the Story
The retelling of the Exodus story is the only ritual we have that has a specific role for the youngest child. And that’s because of what Moses told the people of Israel just as they were about to leave Egypt. We read, “In days to come, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ say to him, ‘With a mighty hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.’”
On the eve of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, Moses had but one recurring message for the people of Israel: Teach your children — share your story, tell them about God’s greatness, His miracles, and your faith.
Teaching our children about their past is not just something we like to do, or just another commandment in the Bible. It’s the first commandment Moses gave the Jews when they left Egypt. The slavery and suffering, the miracles that God performed, and the great redemption from Egypt, are all meant to be passed down, parent to child, every year. This way, from the youngest age, children identify with their past, and see themselves as participants in the story of Israel.
As people of faith, we must always remember that we aren’t spectators in God’s plan for history. We are called to see ourselves as part of the story, and to pass that on to the next generation.
What can you do to pass the messages of the past on to your children, grandchildren, or the young people in your community? What part of the story do you want them to know?