The New York Times Modern Love podcast is my newest obsession. I eagerly check every few days to see if the newest episode is uploaded. Connie Britton narrated the most recent one so it was basically my definition of perfect -- Tammy Taylor talking directly in my ear!
Every episode begins with a milky voice saying "This is Modern Love -- stories of love, loss and redemption".
Love, loss and redemption -- the three requirements of a good story. Of every great story.
As we approach the holiday of Passover, I find myself thinking about the purpose of this crazy holiday. For centuries, the Jewish people would approach this holiday with growing to-do lists. We clean our house to make sure there's not one single crumb of bread left. We cook like caterers. We shop like mad people. There are two Seders to make and a bunch of other lunches and dinners. Everything needs to be kosher for Passover. Not just kosher. Kosher for Passover is code for a 230 percent price increase. Every year I find this holiday more maddening and less meaningful than the year before. Until Modern Love entered my life.
What is the purpose of Passover? In short -- it is to tell our children our story. The story of our exodus from Egypt. The story of slavery and of freedom. It is to teach our children our history. Yes, we need to focus on the exodus as the seminal event on our history but why not start closer to their lives? Start with their grandparents and great grandparents history. There were exoduses then too. Our history is full of exodus.
Children love to hear stories. So do adults. And the Exodus story is dramatic. What may be even more dramatic though is the love, loss and redemption theme woven all throughout the saga. Moses mother puts him in a basket on the Nile River to save his life. To float to the unknown. Because of mother love -- she's willing to place her baby in a raft with a slim chance of survival. What other stories in our family history or in our collective history talk about parental love and sacrifice? Share them.
When we talk about the slavery in Egypt -- let's talk about the deep and painful loss of freedom with our kids. Where else in our history do we have this loss? Great grandparents who had to flee their homes in Europe? Do we know people who lost their independence because of disease? Do we know any women whose husband has refused a get? Do we know people who are persecuted for their religious beliefs or sexual orientation? Lets tell their stories.
And the most dramatic climax of the story is of course the redemption. The miraculous, thunderous, impossible story of the sea splitting and the Jewish people leaving their past behind and going into the unknown again. For the younger children this is the meat and potatoes of the story. This is the blockbuster movie event. And that's cool. As an agnostic parent I have a hard time with this part because it's sensational and ludicrous. But my 4-year-old loves every part of it so I go along with it because it is a fantastic story. When I think of what I want my older kids to get out of this part of the story is the redemption part. I want them to believe that redemption is always possible. Ask the oldest member of the seder to share a redemption story. When all seemed lost and then the universe turned just so and things got better. Ask the kids if they've ever felt lost and helpless. Have they been redeemed yet? Share the story of Entebbe. Of the liberation of Bergen Belsen. Of Gilad Shalit. Share other peoples stories. Teach them about apartheid. Explain women suffrage. Talk about all the goodness and victories. Remind them (and ourselves) that sometimes we are redeemed as people.
This holiday is so full of potential for meaningful moments with our families. Let's stop cleaning and obsessing over food for awhile. Lets talk about love, loss and redemption.