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Questions as enticing as Kneidlach… 

18/04/19 13:38:03


Pesach and particularly the Seder has a hold on the Jewish imagination; it attracts even the most alienated of Jews; it enchants the young with it’s curious customs (and the fact that it places them at the centre stage); it talks to their parents recognising their dilemmas and challenges (how to cope with different kinds of children, how to keep them engaged etc.); it stirs the hearts of the grandparents with its themes of Jewish identity and continuity and the naches of their Mah Nishtana questioner. And so it should be, after all this is the festival that formed us as a people. As Moses defiantly confronts Pharoah ‘We will go with our young and our old. We will go with our sons and our daughters…because we are to celebrate a festival to the Lord’ (Exodus 10.9).


And so will celebrate from Caulfield to Kathmandu, from Sydney to Sderot!

At Caulfield Shule we’ve got a great line-up with guest Chazzanim, two communal Sedarim, great kids programmes on every day of Yom Tov (Saturday, Sunday and following Friday, Saturday). We have an extravanganza event with The Amazing Circus Fireman on Wednesday 24th April from 10:30am-12pm (proceeds towards redoing our playground) and Liberal Candidate for Macnamara, Kate Ashmor our guest speaker, at our Pesach Kiddush on the last day of chag. Don’t forget Yizkor service is on the final day (Saturday 27th) at which we will also mark Anzac Day with a special tefillah.We will be launching our teenage girls group Zohar shortly after Pesach and are seeking enrolments.LINK


There are countless Haggadot available with witty and insightful comments (there’s even a new complete Emoji Haggadah this year).I’m a Rabbi Jonathan Sacks die-hard fan and we’ve printed a few of his comments on the Haggadah below.


Enjoy your Sedarim – may the questions be as enticing as the kneidlach, the company as pleasant as the charoset and the experience as enthralling as the maror dipped in sweetness.


Chag Pesach Kasher ve Sameach from myself, Caron and our family to you and your family,


Ralph Genende




From the Haggadah of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks:


Text 1: Yachatz (p11)

This is a strange invitation: ‘This is the bread of affliction which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all that are hungry come and eat.’ What hospitality is it to offer the hungry the taste of suffering? In fact, though, this is a profound insight into the nature of slavery and freedom. As noted above, matzah represents two things: it is the food of slaves, and also the bread eaten by the Israelites as they left Egypt in liberty. What transforms the bread of affliction into the bread of freedom is the willingness to share it with others.



Text 2: The 4 Children (p17)

It may be that the ‘four children’ are not different but successive stages in the development of a child. We begin by being unable to ask. We accept the world as given. The next stage in intellectual growth is curiosity (the ‘simple’ son). We ask questions with no ulterior motive. We simply want to learn. This is often followed by a period of testing and challenging the values we have received (the ‘wicked’ or adolescent son). The Hebrew word for adolescent, na’ar, also means ‘to shake off’. The teenage years are ones where we develop our own identity by putting received values to the test. This can sometimes lead to rebellion as a form of self-exploration. The culmination of cognitive growth is ‘wisdom’, the point at which we have both internalised the values of our heritage and are sufficiently mature to see their objective merits. Although the Haggadah uses the word ‘wise’, rabbinic tradition preferred the phrase talmid chakham, a ‘wise disciple’. Wisdom, in Judaism, is not a state, but a process of constant learning. That is why it lies as much in the questions one asks as in the answers. Every answer is itself the prelude to a deeper question, and thus there is constant growth as we move to new levels of understanding.


Text 4: Dayenu (p40)

If He had not given us their treasure

Before the Israelites left Egypt they were commanded to ask of their neighbours silver and gold and other precious objects. The morality of this has long been a source of perplexity. The key to understanding it lies in the later law to which it gave rise. When you let a slave go free, commands the Torah, ‘you shall not let him go empty-handed. Supply him liberally from your flock, your threshing-floor and your wine-press. Give to him as the Lord your God has blessed you. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this today’ (Deuteronomy 15:13-15).

Slavery is an insult to the human condition and it leaves a legacy of bitterness which itself prevents an ex-slave from being fully free of the past. Freedom involves more than just releasing a slave. It means furnishing him or her with the means to begin an independent life. It also involves tangible recognition of the work he or she did while a slave. Without this a slave continues to resent his former owner. With it, they can face one another in mutual dignity and respect. Payment is restitution in the deepest sense of the word, not only financial but also psychological.



Fri, 22 January 2021 9 Shevat 5781