Friday, April 22, 2016

A Simple Thought About Questions and Our Sedarim

It is a bit after noon on Friday, April 22, 2016 (14 Nissan 5776)and the last things to do for Seder preps cannot be done until later – matzah balls in the soup, set the table (always done later just for fun) and the green vegetables for tonight and tomorrow. So, my thoughts turn to the Seder itself. What is the most important part of the Seder itself? Okay so those of you who know the script will answer PASCHAL LAMB, MATZAH and MAROR. But, wait that is not really what I mean – so allow me to illustrate. Our five-year old Kindergarten students (daughters of my daughter, my husband calls them grandchildren, go figure!) informed me yesterday that everyone was put on buses at their day school and taken to a synagogue for their model Seder. So today, when we were just hanging out with the first of the Boston segment of the family who is back for Seders, our daughter and their most lovely and intelligent Aunt Rachie, we asked them why this was done? (My question to them.) They did not know how to respond. So then I asked them the following questions: How big was the room where they had their entire school come together for their Model Seder? Do they have a room that is that big at their school? They got it! Then I went back to the original question – Why did you all get on buses and go to a synagogue? Answer? Because we did not have a room big enough at our school to hold everyone and the parents who also came!

This is the lesson of Pesach. How do we ask questions and what are the answers that the questions yield? What are the pre-questions (think pre-quel, which everyone is so into these days!)? In this way, everyone is heard, we get to clarify what we mean to say and we achieve meaningful conversation. Too often and too sadly, this is a lost art. With presidential candidates interrupting each other and shouting each other down, people in the workplace not listening to the other but so focused on getting their point across, what happened to meaningful conversation.

Tonight (and tomorrow night for those of us not in Israel) we will be going through scripted conversations. WATCH how the Rabbis speak with – NOT TO OR AT – each other, really try to get to the root of their questions and watch what each learns in the ensuing dialogue. This is precisely why our seders go on until two or three o’clock in the morning – because we discuss, explore, think about each others’ thoughts and truly and intentionally listen to each other.

How I wish we could all do exactly this in our daily lives. It may take a bit longer to get through a conversation but imagine what it would mean in terms of how we relate to each other. If we do not understand or agree with the question or comment at hand, let us not shout down the other with our view so intent on making OUR point. Rather, let us remember that listening to the other is more important in communication than anything we say. Or to think about this in another way, there is a sign in Neli and Neima’s (the children in this conversation) classroom that reminds all that LISTEN AND SILENT ARE MADE UP OF THE SAME LETTERS. Now there is a lesson for us all to learn.

So here is my question for now: What is the most important part of your Seder itself? Chag Kasher v’Sameach to all.

1 comment:

  1. The most important part of the seder are the questions that arise from the Haggadah itself. I've been at seders in some form or another for 64 years now and every year I see something more, react differently to something familiar, or just relate differently to what is in it. I plan to discuss slavery in our modern world, too, because it exists and we should be doing something about it, especially as Jews. We should never forget that "we were slaves in Egypt." Chag Sameach to you and your family!