The Mishnah records four new years every year. Each one takes on a special character. Elul is the New Year for animal tithes. Rosh Hashanah is the New Year for the creation of the world. Tu B’Shevat is the New Year for the trees. And the first of Nisan, (the month in which Passover occurs) is the New Year for the counting of the reign of Kings.
How ironic is it that a holiday that celebrates the downfall of the most formable rulers in the ancient world, the Pharoah, is embedded in a month that celebrates human rule. In the book of Deuteronomy Gd sees into the future to a time when the Israelites will desire to be ruled by a king. The author of Deuteronomy lets the people know that it is ok as long as that ruler “when he is seated on his royal throne, he shall have a copy of this Teaching written for him on a scroll by the Levitcal priests. Let it remain with him and let him read it all his life so that he may learn to revere Gd, his Gd, to observe faithfully every word of this Teaching as well as these laws. Thus he will not act haughtily toward his fellows or deviate from the instruction to the right or to the left.” (Dt. 17:18-20) The Israelites are allowed to have rulers as long as those rulers are righteous and humble, remembering that they are accountable to Gd and are not gods.
Isn’t that what Passover is all about? A time to remember that there is some entity, some power, some meaning to life that is bigger than each and every one of us? That something, which some of us call Gd, has the potential to connect us to all human beings, to the bumblebee and the polar near, to the melting glaciers and the dirty water sources. Every Haggadah that I have ever seen has one of my favorite paragraphs in it: “Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all you are in need come and celebrate Pesach. Now we are slaves. Next year may we all be free.” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said “no one is free until we are all free.”
This Passover as we read our story, create and relive our memories, may we take time to reaffirm our commitment to making the United States more than just a symbol of justice and freedom for all. President Trump one week before Passover threatened to send all asylum seekers, all people who are fleeing oppression, hunger, violence, hate, and fear to cities that have declared themselves sanctuary cities. Howard County failed to pass our sanctuary bill. May we have the strength and courage now to respond with open arms. May the entrance to our county be filled with open doors that lives into the words we say every year.
Roz and David Zinner chose to sponsor a family from Honduras who arrived about two weeks ago. This family came with close to nothing, including no extra clothes, toys, insurance, jobs, education or food. If you are or know of a dentist, ob/gyn, pediatrician, Spanish translator, job coach, and are willing to donate your time or resources to help this family, please let the Zinners or me know. If you have a home and a heart open enough to sponsor another family into our community, please let me know.
This Passover when we say, “Let all who are hungry come and eat,” may we mean it. When we open the door for Elijah, may we step in to fill his overwhelming shoes. When we celebrate Passover let us reaffirm our ability to create Gd’s world here on earth. For no one is free until we all are free. Next year may we all be free.