Every year Passover brings us together—families and friends, congregation members and guests, Jews and non-Jews, adults, children and teens—to tell a story. And whether the story is factually correct or not doesn’t matter half as much as the way the story is experienced in a living voice amid the passion and drama of everyday modernity.
Because we’re not just telling a story. We’re asking a very important question: What’s the difference?
This is no mere apathetic shrug of a question, but a deep, heartfelt inquiry.
In fact, the Biblical telling begins by asking the question through the lives of a few brave individuals who chose compassion as their means of social disobedience. The midwives Shifrah and Puah who risked their lives by rescuing newborn boys from Pharoah’s death decree, and the unnamed daughter of Pharoah who adopted a Hebrew infant as her own son, each knew something bigger was at stake. By acting outside conformity, they became the difference.
Miriam, too, took a risk when she stepped out of the shadows to inform Pharoah’s daughter about a wet-nurse for the Hebrew foundling. Her words of strength and joy continued to make a difference as the people journeyed through the wilderness.
And the Seder asks the question again and again, What’s the difference?
Between this night and all other nights?
Between leavened bread and unleavened bread?
Between the ways our children learn?
Between one people’s yearning for liberty 3000 years ago and those still yearning today?
And most important, what difference will each of us make in the unfolding of our lives?