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March 22, 2013     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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March 22, 2013
 

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 22, 2013 PAGE 13.o, By Dasee Berkowitz NEWYORK (JTA)--We have a love-hate relationship with boundaries. We hate being confined or told what to do. Many adults don't like having a boss, and many schoolchildren get an- noyed when the answer is "no." Boundaries limit our in- dividuality, intrude upon what we want to do and sometimes feel like an arbitrary obstacle to getting what we want. For children, limits of time (bedtime), sources of enjoyment (how much ice cream for des- sert) or behavior (being scolded for shooting a toy bow and arrow around the living room) can seem like arbitrary rules that stymie their ability to fully enjoy the activity at hand in favor of some far-off goal that only their parent understands. As a grown-up, when I see a sign that says "Keep off the grass," I want nothing more than to frolic in my bucolic surroundings. But we also love boundaries because we know that without them, life would be chaotic. As a parent, we know set- ting firm boundaries helps us raise our children and run our households. As a global citizen, we know that boundaries help us create civilized societies. And as Jews we know that boundar- ies help define who we are and what our purpose is. No holiday helps us under- stand this more than Passover. The form of the holiday is all about boundaries. The flow of the seder--not to mention the very word itself, which means order--requires us to take each step at a time, in a certain sequence.The rabbis hfl at one does not fulfill one's obliga- tion of the sealer until we have completed speaking about the pascal offering (pesach), mat- zahandthebitterherbs (rnamr). The themes of Passover also require a degree of prescriptive recitation. On seder night we travel from slavery to freedom, from being idol worshipers to worshiping God, and in the words of the haggadah, from degradation ("genut") to praise ("shevach"). We understand these central themes of the holiday by the rituals on seder night. We have particular symbols on the seder plate. We ask four questions, hinting to us that our ability to ask questions itself is an act that reflects our status as free people. We drink four cups of wine, which relate to four languages of redemption from the Torah itself, when God says, "I will take you out from under the burdens of Egypt;" "I will save you from their bondage;" "I will redeem you;" and "I will take you to me as a people." Recited in this sequence, we are encouraged to reflect how liberation from Egypt is a pro- cess from physical subjugation to forging a new relationship with God. Our story of liberation is a carefully scripted narrative. And while creativity is not only allowed on seder night but en- couraged (in fact the haggadah itself exhorts, "anyone who increases the telling of the story of the Exodus from Egypt is praiseworthy"), the prescribed ritual matters. It's counterintuitive. If we are celebrating freedom, why can't we be free to choose how we want to celebrate a holiday of freedom? A Jewish Wood- stock? An intellectual salon contrasting the haggadah with otherliteraryworksoffreedom? we neglect a relationship with boundaries and structure can open up for ourselves the And when we see that our Freedom drum circles with a theDivine, which is established we experience true freedom, contours of a meaningful duty as global citizens requires "Echayim"to Elijah at the end? herethroughthestudyofTorah, When we create appropriate life. We fill our lives with the us to put others' needs before Freedom from slavery isandmorebroadlywithourJew- physical boundaries for our grand narratives (ofpursuing our own desires, we create car- one kind of freedom that we ishtraditionandtheethicalsys- children, they are able to play justice and working to free ing societies. celebrate on Passover, but that temthat has been passed down andexpressthemselvesfreely, slaves) and lofty ideals (like This Passover, celebrate isonlyhalfofthestory.Wewere to us through the generations, Whenweembracethebound- the importance of Shabbat the commitments you have liberatedfromEgyptnottowan- thenwe lack freedom, aries of Jewish commitment andturningoffourego-driven made--to your family, your der as free spirits in the wilder- One of the lessons of Pass- through holiday and Shabbat selves for a day to become at- Jewish community and the nessbutforapurpose--toserve over is that only within celebration and learning, we tuned to our souls.) world, and feeltruly free. God. The words are interesting here--we escape from"avodah kasha" ("difficult labor"), which the Egyptians forced upon us, to "avodat Hashem" (' vorship of God") and a system of life that God reveals to Moses and the children of Israel at Mount Sinai 50 days later. The fulfill- ment of Jewish freedom is a life of commitment, direction and purpose. We can understand what a purpose-driven freedom means from the PirkeiAvot (the Teach- ings of our Fathers) interpreta- t'lon of the verse from Exodus, "the word of God was harut [engraved] on the stone tablets [that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai.]" (Exodus 32:16) In Pirkei Avot 6:2, Rabbi Joshua ben Levi writes, "Don't read carved [harut] but rather freedom [heirut], for there is no free person other than one who is occupied with Torah" Here there is a word play between "engraved," which connotes rigidity, and "free." If Wishing the Community a Very Happy Passover/. & ASTHIVIA ASSOCIATE5 OF CNrRAL FLORIDA Steven Rosenberg, M.D. Carlos M. Jacinto, M.D. Harleen Anderson, M.D. Treating patients in Central Florida for over 25 Years Treating Allergic D/seases of the Ears, Nose & Throat Our physicians are Board Certified Allergy, Asthma & Immunology & Board Certmed Pediatrics Winter Park 407-678-4040 Altamonte Springs 40%331-6244 www.aaacfonline.com Orlando 407-370-3705 "Viera 407-678-4040 JEWISH NATIONAL ur ,'ce (rr e( Bruce Gould, JNF, Board of Directors