#blogexodus : (the cup of) redemption

the second cup — the cup of redemption — כוס גאולה

Think of each cup of wine as a toast to the gen­er­a­tions of our peo­ple who com­mit­ted them­selves to the strug­gle for lib­er­a­tion in their own day.

With the sec­ond cup of wine we recall the sec­ond promise, the sec­ond stage, of our redemp­tion, the actu­al res­cue from slav­ery:

וְהִצַּלְתִּי אֶתְכֶם מֵעֲבֹדָתָם

I will deliv­er you from their bondage. [Ex. 6:6]

Raise the sec­ond cup of wine and sing:

וְהִיא שֶׁעָמְדָה לַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ וְלָנוּ, שֶׁלֹּא אֶחָד בִּלְבַד עָמַד עָלֵינוּ לְכַלּוֹתֵנוּ, אֶלָּא שֶׁבְּכָל–דּוֹר וָדוֹר עוֹמְדִים עָלֵינוּ לְכַלּוֹתֵנוּ, וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַצִּילֵנוּ מִיָּדָם

V’he she’amdah la’avoteinu v’lanu. She­lo echad bil­vad amad aleinu l’chaloteinu. Ehlah, she’b’chol dor vador omdim aleinu l’chaloteinu. V’haKadosh Baruch Hu matzileinu miyadam.

This force which rose up against our ances­tors was not the only one that rose up to destroy us. In each and every gen­er­a­tion there are those who rise up to destroy us. And there are Right­eous Gen­tiles who stand beside us, help­ing us defend our­selves. They are appre­ci­at­ed exten­sions of the Holy One, who is to be blessed, as togeth­er we work for a bet­ter world.

Set down the cup of wine.

But, before we drink…

Why us? Why the Jew­ish peo­ple? Our num­bers amount to lit­tle more than a sta­tis­ti­cal error in the cen­sus of Chi­na. Why do we play such an active role in our world…? Per­haps we can find an answer in the ques­tions we ask and the sto­ries we tell tonight.

The lead­ers of Baby­lon­ian Jew­ry in the eleventh cen­tu­ry added this, one of the old­est sto­ries about the Seder to the Hag­gadah:

מַעֲשֶׂה בְּרַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר וְרַבִּי יְהוֹשׁוּעַ וְרַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן עֲזַרְיָה וְרַבִּי עֲקִיבָה וְרַבִּי טַרְפוֹן, שֶׁהָיוּ מְסֻבִּין בִּבְנֵי בְרָק; וְהָיוּ מְסַפְּרִין בִּיצִיאַת מִצְרַיִם כָּל אוֹתוֹ הַלַּיְלָה, עַד שֶׁבָּאוּ תַּלְמִידֵיהֶם וְאָמְרוּ לָהֶם, רַבּוֹתֵינוּ, הִגִּיעַ זְמָן קִרְיַת שְׁמַע שֶׁלְּ שַׁחְרִית

Dur­ing the Roman oppres­sion, five rabbis—Akiva, Tar­fon, Yehoshu’a, Elazar ben Azaria and Eliezer—held a Seder in the town of B’nai B’rak. They delved deeply into the Hag­gadah until dawn broke. Then, their stu­dents came and said, “Rabbeinu, it is time for dawn devo­tions.”

We don’t know why Baby­lon­ian lead­ers added this sto­ry. Accord­ing to tra­di­tion, it was not our sal­va­tion from Egypt­ian slav­ery that these rab­bis dis­cussed but the strug­gle against Roman oppres­sion of their time.
How­ev­er, these five sages rep­re­sent three sep­a­rate gen­er­a­tions, and their stu­dents call­ing them to morn­ing prayers rep­re­sent a fourth. It is high­ly unlike­ly that they were able to be at the same seder.

Rather, the sages’ all-night study mod­els at least two impor­tant aspects of the Pesach seder. It is cen­tered not on chil­dren but adults: this sto­ry bal­ances the Four Chil­dren and the Four Ques­tions. You should ask at least four ques­tions then dis­cus till the break of dawn in cel­e­bra­tion of our redemp­tion. In addi­tion it stress­es the abil­i­ty to have con­ver­sa­tions across time, where texts and actors from one gen­er­a­tion of Jew­ish life are present to com­ment and clar­i­fy events and text of anoth­er peri­od. [taught by Rab­bi Cliff Librach]

In addi­tion, per­haps our Baby­lon­ian sages added this sto­ry dur­ing appar­ent­ly peace­ful times to remind us that in every gen­er­a­tion men and women strug­gle for lib­er­a­tion, redemp­tion, sal­va­tion, renew­al, free­dom, lib­er­ty and right.

Who are the people struggling for freedom in our time?

We need to count our­selves among them.

What have I done this past year to increase freedom?

In their hon­or, and in hon­or of all the peo­ple of the world who have joined in the strug­gle for peace, for free­dom, and to make the world a bet­ter place in which to live, we drink the sec­ond cup of wine.

what is “#blogexodus”?

My friend and col­league Phyl­lis Som­mers has thought of yet a new cre­ative way to pre­pare for Peasach. You can learn more here.

#blogexodus schedule

blog­ging the exo­dus

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