The truth is that telling the truth is not so easy. The sages of the midrash wryly told that when God decided to create human beings, the ministering angels broke into factions. Justice and Lovingkindness were in favor of this new creation, saying that people would do acts of
tzedek and chesed. Peace objected that they would engage in war and Truth protested that humans would be filled with deceit. God's response was to hurl Truth down to the earth, but the other angels rushed to its defense. "Is not Truth Your seal?" they said. And quoting Psalm 85, they added, "Let truth spring up from the earth!"
In this rabbinic take on human nature, Truth, of course, tells the truth that human beings have a hard time living truthfully. But I find the end of the midrash ambiguous. Did Truth return to the heavenly abode? Or did it remain among us to instruct and inspire us? What makes it so difficult to tell the truth?
In these days of "truthiness," "alternative facts" and "fake news, the
middah (spiritual/ethical quality) of
Emet/Truth takes on particular urgency. Pesach invites us to cultivate greater awareness of truthfulness in our thoughts and speech, and to expand our freedom to direct the sacred gift of language to promoting
Emet/Truth in the world.
Passover is ultimately about freedom and new beginnings. The exodus from Egypt is a birth story - the birth of the Israelite people, and of a new kind of society, covenanted in love and justice. Passover is also a spring holiday, celebrating the first harvest and the new birth of the flocks. So part of the practice of clearing out hametz is linked to this sense of beginning, of new possibilities - clearing out the old, to make room for the new.
Each year, we like to offer a collection of haggadot available for download or purchase to enrich your seder practice. Some of these we have sent to you before, and others, such as the Ayeka haggadah are brand-new this year! We hope that your seder is joyful, mindful, authentic, and full of meaning, and that this Festival of Freedom helps to move us closer to the world we long for!