Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Redemption Time - Tuesday Kavvanah, 3/20/2012

When I heard the news yesterday of the killings at a Jewish school in France, I cried.  And then it occurred to me that one reason that Pesah still speaks to us is that despite our successes, despite our integration into the wider community, despite our widespread acceptance as citizens of the world, despite the establishment of a Jewish state in the land of Israel, total redemption has eluded us.  We were redeemed from slavery and oppression in Egypt, but we still await the completion of God's work.

Twice a day, when we recite the Shema in its liturgical framework, we invoke the themes of creation, revelation, and redemption: the first theme refers to the creation of the universe; "revelation" to the gift of the Torah; and "redemption" recalls the Exodus from Egypt, which we will explore more extensively during the upcoming festival of Pesah.  

Reciting these berakhot every morning, we are reminded that God's work is ongoing.  The world continues to be re-fashioned every day.  Our understanding and relationship to the Torah continuously unfolds, as we use the lens of our ancient stories and laws to engage with modernity.  And even though the words of the Haggadah that we recite at the Passover seder assure us that we are no longer slaves, our redemption is far from complete.

Let us hope that this Hag haHerut, Festival of Freedom, will bring us just a bit closer to the time when the need for security guards in schools and synagogues, for bomb shelters and car searches, and for saber-rattling over any nation's nuclear program, will be a distant memory.

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