One of my earliest memories as a child are of Passover. I remember how big it seemed, how long it seemed and how it was a bit scary having a refrigerator filled with unusual foods that I might not like to eat.
But my mom was smart and for every strange jar of gefilta fish or box of dry matzo, there was a chocolate bar or whipped butter to help me feel reassured.
Over the next few years as I learned the customs, the song and the traditions, the Passover Seder and I became friends.
Last night during our reading of the numerology of the plagues, I thought of numerology of the seating around the Seder table.
You start at the far end, where your wiggling creates the least disturbance. For the first twenty years you are more of less a passive observer at the Seder table. You share in the songs and the readings but you are basically along for the ride.
For the next 40 years you slowly graduate into a leadership role as you learn to help prepare the home. You cook, you clean and you find interesting readings to share and help make the Seder fun and meaningful for all. Your chair starts to migrate from the far end towards the top.
Then, god willing, you have 80 more years where you can enjoy the fruits of your labor. You are no longer always in charge; this is when your contribution comes not from labor or research but from the wisdom that one accumulates from walking on this earth for many springs.
Such is the math 20-40-80; each period twice has nice as the period before.
While your chair at the Seder table might change. The Seder itself remains fairly consistent from year to year and from generation to generation. The Seder, this ritual that we Jews have performed for thousands of years, this story of our people becoming free, binds us together as a people and as family because the desire to be free, the desire to be whole, the desire to be liberated from what ever holds us back, is the story of being human.
So on this Passover night, a night that we begin by asking, why is this night different? I ask a different question. How nice it is that this night is but a little different from all other Passover Seders.
And while the Seder is what binds us together as a people and as a family, I want to add how lucky I feel this evening; for I realize that this family is not only bond together by tradition but also by love, respect and the joy of shared laughter.