Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pass it your kids "eat" history?


     There is no greater confluence of table and theology than the Jewish tradition of the Seder meal at Passover.  Last evening I was privileged to lead a Christian version of the Seder..(yes I know it's not the correct date).  One striking thing about it is that it is read in the first person, as if the story were happening now and to us.  A reminder of how we should approach our history and tradition.
     The meal is full of references to the historical flight to freedom when we ran from Egyptian captivity.  The Matzoh, unleavened bread, to remind us that there was not even time to allow the bread to rise.  It is also called the bread of affliction.   Charoses, made from apples, red wine cinnamon, sugar and walnuts,  this combination is meant to look like mortar.  It is to make present all of the mortar that was heaped brick upon brick during the years of slavery.
      During the meal one also tastes a bowl of salt water, representative of the tears shed.  Bitter herb to help us recall the bitter things that happened on the Exodus, and a sweet herd to recall the good things.  A hard boiled egg to make present the many sacrifices offered on our behalf at the altar.  And finally a roasted lamb shank to remember the Paschal Lamb sacrificed and eaten on the night of the Passover.  (more on the tradition of the Lamb in a future post).
     But for me, the part of the meal that stands out are the four questions asked by a child.  Not so much the content of the questions, but the reason we are told to include this during the meal.  It is the command to pass on our tradition and beliefs to our children when they ask why we eat this meal and share the story,  as instructed in Exodus 13:14 " In the day you shall tell your son saying: All of this is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt."  This entire meal illustrates that there is no greater place to teach our children than at the dinner table!!!
      What is your history, your tradition, your beliefs?  Even if your family didn't share the history of your ancestors at the table, you can.  Look to the old recipes, find the stories and the "feed" it all to your children.

stay hungry
A Guide for a Christian SederA Guide for a Christian Seder

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