The Passover Seder, Amid Ukraine Catastrophe: Passover Is About Our Own Personal Liberation – Physically, Emotionally and Spiritually
By Rabbi Moishe Kievman - Chabad Chayil
April 14, 2022
The eight-day festival of Passover is celebrated this year from sundown on Friday evening, April 15th, 2022, until after nightfall on Saturday, April 23rd, 2022, with its highlight, the festive “Seder” dinners on the first 2 nights of the holiday. The festival of Passover commemorates the freedom of the Jewish nation from enslavement in Ancient Egypt in 1313 BCE. After many decades of slavery to the Egyptian Pharaohs, G‑d sent Moses to the Pharaoh with a message to: “Let My People Go.” When Moses’ warnings were dismissed, G‑d sent upon Egypt ten plagues, the last one being the killing of the Egyptian firstborn while “passing over” the Jewish homes—hence the name of the holiday.
To commemorate the unleavened bread that we ate when we left Egypt, we don’t eat—or even retain in our possession—any leavened grains known as Chametz during the holiday. Chametz includes any food or drink that contains even a trace of wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt or their derivatives and which weren’t guarded from leavening or fermentation. Instead, we eat Matzah—flat unleavened bread, at least for the two Seder nights, when it's a Mitzvah (biblical commandment).
Our Rabbis explain that Chametz is symbolic of haughtiness and egotism - traits so harmful that they are at the root of all negative traits. This is one of the reasons why even the most miniscule amount of Chametz is forbidden - for these negative traits must be completely nullified.
Few Jewish holidays evoke the same warm sentiments as Passover. Memories of family and friends gathered as the four cups of wine are poured, the four questions asked and the Matzah served, all contribute to Passover’s popularity in the Jewish Community. Bringing the warmth and tradition of this festival to every major city in the world, The Chabad is inviting all residents to participate in Community Seders to be held on April 15th, 2022 and on April 16th, 2022 at locations throughout South Florida.
The Passover Seder is a feast that includes reading, drinking wine, telling stories, eating special foods, singing and other Passover traditions. The central observance of Passover—eating Matzah, the unleavened bread—will take center stage at the Seder, with handmade round Shmurah Matzah, “The Rolls-Royce of Matzah,” available to all.
The Seders take participants through the wondrous liberation of our ancestors from Egyptian bondage, while sharing the relevance and beauty of the age-old festival in our modern lives. Included in the Seder will be a delectable catered dinner paired with a variety of fine imported wines and handmade round 'Shmurah' Matzah.
This year, as we sit down to our Seder, we will be welcoming those in need locally, as well as the needs of those suffering across the globe who will be on our minds as well. In Kabbalistic teachings, Matzah is referred to as the “Bread of Faith” and the “Bread of Healing,” we will be sharing Matzah with the community at a time when faith, hope and healing are needed more than ever.
Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbis throughout Europe will be hosting more than 30,000 refugees from Ukraine at their Passover Seders as part of a massive humanitarian effort that The Chabad has led in response to the crisis. Thousands more refugees will receive Passover food packages, enabling them to celebrate the holiday, despite the difficulties they face.
South Florida has joined in the efforts to save lives, as many community members have contributed to the Ukraine Jewish Relief Fund at ChabadChayil.org/Ukraine, while some from the community have actually traveled to Europe to volunteer in the aid efforts.
Passover is not simply a celebration of the historic liberation of an ancient people. Passover is about our own personal liberation – physically, emotionally and spiritually, a message that rings true this year perhaps more than ever before in our lifetimes as we still face the challenges throughout the world. Passover inspires us to break free from the shackles restraining us from reaching new heights – in our lives, relationships and connection with G-d.
For those unable to attend the Seder, this year Chabad Chayil is offering Seder-Kits to-go, including hand-made Shmura Matzah, the Seder plate with all the traditional seder-plate foods, packaged and ready for your Seder. The Seder plates and Shmura Matzah will be available at: ChabadChayil.org/Passover.
The Chabad's Community Seder is part of a global Passover campaign that began in 1954, when the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson launched the Shmurah Matzah Initiative. The Rebbe, who was born in the Ukraine 120 years ago, has done everything possible to encourage Jews all over the world to do everything they possibly can to ensure that every Jew has a Seder to attend, no matter where they are, or what level of observance they usually practice. This year, over 500,000 people will participate at Seders at over 4,000 Chabad Centers throughout the world and an estimated four million hand-baked Shmurah Matzahs will be distributed.
We encourage you to contact your local Chabad or Synagogue to join the Seder nearest you. You are of course welcome to join us at our Seder in Highland Lakes. To learn more about the holiday, order a ready-made fully-prepared Seder plate, Shmura Matzah, RSVP for the Seder or need help selling your Chametz, Call: (305) 770-1919. Or Visit: https://www.chabadchayil.org/templates/section_cdo/aid/4343279/jewish/Pesach.htm where you can also download for free a beautiful brand new Haggadah with easy to understand explanations.
About the Author:
Rabbi Kievman is the ambassador of The Rebbe to Highland Lakes, Florida. He is founder of CHAP - an afterschool program for Jewish Children in Public Schools, The Rabbi at The Family Shul & together with his wife, direct Chabad Chayil. He can be reached at: (305) 770-1919. Or E-mail to: rabbi@ChabadChayil.org.