The Haggadah is an exilic document. For Jews, as long as the world is filled with injustice, cruelty, violence, and war, our work is not done.
Judaism teaches that the messianic era will come only when justice, compassion, and peace characterize relationships between individuals, peoples, and nations, when the hearts of parents turn to their children and the hearts of children turn to their parents (Malachi 3:23-24).
Through intention, determination, righteous deeds, and moral activism, our Jewish mission and the essential message of the Passover Seder is, through remembrance that we were once slaves, to address every injustice, every act of cruelty and every insensitivity to bring nearer the day when the prophetic admonishments will no longer be necessary.
My poem “Maror-Bitterness” that follows, is one in a series of d’rashot (commentaries) published this week in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal by a number of Los Angeles rabbis reflecting on the symbols of the Seder (“Rabbis Dish on the Seder Plate – April 7-13, 2017. Pages 36-38 – jewishjournal.com/culture/religion/passover/217641/rabbis-dish-seder-plate/). I recommend them all.
The Almighty called to the children of Jacob:
“I have taken notice of you / And seen your suffering / And sent to you my prophet / To relieve you of your maror-bitterness.
I carried you on eagles’ wings / And shielded you from the pursuers’ arrows / So that whenever you taste the maror / You will remember / Who I am / And who you are / And why you are free.
As I took notice of your ancestors / I call upon you today / The descendants of slaves / Who know the heart of strangers / And their fear and desperation / And do for them as I have done for you / And liberate them / The oppressed and the tempest-tossed / The poor and the discarded / The old and the lonely / The abused and the addict / The victim of violence and injustice / And everyone who tastes daily the maror-bitterness / That you know so very well.
As you sit around your Seder tables / I call upon you to act / With open, pure and loving hearts / On My behalf / And be My witnesses / And bring healing and peace into the world.”
Poem by John L. Rosove, Temple Israel of Hollywood, Los Angeles