This Passover Practice Builds Community, More Important Than Ever Since 10/7

The qualities that foster independence are often the qualities that keep us apart from each other. Fostering our own personality, our individuality often creates divisiveness. So how do we create unity? How do we build community from individuals?

We are currently experiencing this. It is no secret that leading up to October 7, Israel was incredibly fractured and divided. It was an ugly and tense scene. Tragically the brutalities of October 7 happened and it brought the country together.

But we don’t need a war to bring us together. Interestingly, the structure of building community is built right into the formation of the Jewish people. G-d taught us how to come together and be ;unified, and He taught us this in the laws of the Pascal lamb.

When we were still slaves in Egypt, completely subservient to our Egyptian masters, G-d commanded us to take the lamb, the Egyptian’s god, tie it to the bedpost and slaughter and eat it. Taking their masters’ gods took a tremendous amount of guts – yes, even back then living Jewishly took courage! In doing so, the Jewish slaves gained their independence. A slave, by definition doesn’t have their own expression of personality and their own possessions. By daring to take the Egyptian’s gods, the Jews gained both possessions and personality.

This was the first step that was required in becoming a Jewish nation. We have to bring our individuality! Yet, that is often what divides us from one another. How do we build a community from a group of individuals?

We often think that bringing people together for shared needs creates community. Yet, it’s only somewhat effective – think of carpool arrangements where people come together to help each other out, because it is in everyone’s best interests are often rife with conflict. Many negotiations break down despite both parties being shown that going forward is in their best interest.

Instead, G-d taught us the secret of how to build community. G-d commanded each family to take a lamb, and the law was that the whole lamb had to be eaten on the night of Passover with nothing leftover. Now there’s a problem this. Most families (even a large one, like mine!) can’t eat a whole lamb in one meal! So the solution is: ‘if you’re family is too small’ then the law is that families can come together and share the lamb.

The secret of community? It’s individuals who recognise that they have a super-abundance, they have too much lamb for their family, and they come together to share their abundance with others. Each of us have a super-abundance in our life. For some, it’s time, for others it is money, still others it might be creativity, it might be empathy. We all have an abundance of something and we come together with a shared consciousness of duty to share this abundance with others.

We see this in the response of ‘ordinary’ Jews to the monstrosities of October 7, from the doctors and professionals from outside of Israel who took time out of their busy lives to lend a hand on the ground in Israel. From ‘ordinary’ women who cook and deliver huge amounts of food to the IDF soldiers every Friday, so that the soldiers should have shabbat food in Gaza. To ‘ordinary’ Jews who have used their social media platforms to raise money to provide cleaning help, babysitting and meals for the wives of IDF soldiers who were called up to protect Israel.

What do they all have in common? All these Jews understand what was written into the formation of our nation – they all recognise that they have an abundance of something and are driven to share that with others, and in doing so they have brought the Jewish people together. Happy Pesach

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