Dear KE Community:
A few years ago a group of hip Jews wrote and published The New American Haggadah for Passover. For me there was not that much new about it, and beside it being in English, I was not sure what made it American. So this year I created a new Haggadah based on a teaching from my Kabbalah teacher. I hope you enjoy it (it is attached) entitled A Free Will Telling. Its’ basic theme is the stages one journeys through from any “state” of enslavement to a “state” of awakening and awareness. Now if you want to build with completely new bricks why pull off the shelf old bricks—in this case, the Passover story which is not old but arguably ancient?
An answer is found in this wonderful piece by David Kaetz (an abbreviated version is found toward the beginning of the Haggadah). Here is the longer version from his book, Making Connections.:
“A boat is a vehicle for crossing the sea. You don’t get to choose the furniture in your cabin, and the captain wears a funny hat. A good boat can get you from New York to Liverpool better than swimming. If you throw yourself into the water in the Hudson River, as it flows by Manhattan Island, some part of you might make it to England, but probably not all of you.
A tradition is a vehicle for carrying something through time. If wisdom is embedded in a tradition, it has a better chance of travelling safely through the centuries. For this to work the wisdom must be packed in things that do not degrade with time, things that can be unpacked at every station—things like symbols, myths, stories. These are things that no matter how often you unpack them will travel onward for another generation to unpack, and unpack differently. Sometimes the wisdom may emerge brilliant and obvious, sometime obscure and esoteric, and sometimes people will find nothing there at all. But if the tradition continues, the wisdom will keep travelling, in the hope that, at another port in the flow of time, another generation will find it and embody it once more.”
Have you ever gone on or planned a trip and filled your suitcase with all brand new clothing? That is a new way to unpack—all new clothing, a fresh start, in unchartered waters and you—ready to be present for whatever this moment calls for, from and of you. But not all trips are taken just this way as we accumulate “stuff” (actual clothing or ideas and emotions etc.) and that stuff can serve us well if we have examined carefully what clothing works best for the present journey—in that way it becomes new in this moment (otherwise is it stagnant and in the past).
We start a new semester next week—a first for starting class during the Passover holiday and we will take advantage of the time—a time when we shift our relationship with time (counting each day and making each moment count)—to be present in each moment, with each moment so that all becomes momentous.
Happy holidays, david