In the introduction to his collected poems, Stanley Kunitz writes, "At the core of one's existence is a pool of energy that has nothing to do with personal identity, but that falls away from self, blends into the natural universe. Man has only a bit part to play in the whole marvelous show of creation."
We can think of this while preparing to seat ourselves at Passover Seder tables at week's end: Marveling at having made it to another year, humbling ourselves to the reality that the world is not yet redeemed; acknowledging that the particulars of our narrative as a people, in the final analysis, may not be personal but rather the personal is merely an enticement to feel deeply our broader connection to all of humanity, to all of creation.
In our community we volunteer to tutor children in a local high school; we escort children of the incarcerated to visit their parents in prisons hundreds of miles from home; we build homes for the poor; feed the hungry and the homeless; rally for reproductive rights; for gay marriage; and, advocate for Israel, come to the synagogue, care for our own. From a bird's eye view, there are fewer particulars--only the precise machinery of human activity, constant and furtive, incidental and ongoing, making things work.
The work in Egypt is slavery; the work in Freedom is service to a cause or a God greater than ourselves.
"Our poems can never satisfy us," Kunitz writes, "since they are at best a diminished echo of a song that maybe once or twice in a lifetime we've heard and keep trying to recall."
Sing songs of redemption at your Passover seder. Let echoes of freedom and justice reverberate both familiarity and newness.
Do good. Make things better.
The Sages who sat up all night on Seder night, only to realize it was time for the morning Shma remind us of the most vital of all lessons this time of year: When darkness gives way to light, we recognize that we are One.