In an essay on Passover, the Kiddushat Levi (Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev 1740-1809) opens with an absolutely amazing question. He inquires, why do our children ask מה נישתנה הלילה הזה / what is different about this night – specifically on Pesach? Would it not be just as, if not more, appropriate for them to ask that very question on Sukkot? Afterall, eating a meal outside in a booth seems quite a bit more obscure than the seder.
After a classically winding path of Hasidic Torah, The Berditchever concludes by explaining that Pesach is at its essence a holiday of relationship. Sukkot, a festival in which we give thanks for the season’s bountiful harvest, celebrates God’s creation and dominion over the world. The seder, on the other hand,is a commemoration of God’s loving connection with Am Israel.
The entire exodus story is one of relationship building. God calls us to be holy, but we fail over and over. Only after God comes down to meet us where we are does redemption take place. It is this relationship we commemorate on the seder night.
Relationship is the bedrock on which we take the time to ask and answer questions. For example, a nobel prize winner in physics has no time to answer my lay inquiries into magnetic fields. Despite ignoring my more intellectually interesting questions, the very same woman eagerly takes the time to explain to her own child why things don’t fall up.
This is why it is Passover, not Sukkot, that emphasizes the importance of a question. The seder is the time for us to do our best in emulating God, taking seriously to heart each and every one of our children’s beautiful and holy questions.
Just as Pesach is the time to celebrate the relationship between question and answer, I want to take the opportunity to express my appreciation for you all. Without our relationship, you reading and finding meaning in my words, I would surely have abandoned my pursuit long ago. You cannot know the full impact that your likes, comments, and encouragement have on my heart. You taking a couple minutes every week to share in Torah is what gives my words space in the world.
I would also like to thank my patient, compassionate, and endlessly supportive editor. Behind the hours of research and writing I put into every post, there is a huge accompanying effort of the beautiful and wise Carrie Watkins. She sits encouragingly by my – side, edit after edit, often times late into the night or right up until the Shabbat siren rings. Without her guidance, my writing would make unfollowable assumptions and only sometimes make logical sense. She is the filter that purifies my mind onto the page, and I owe her more thanks than I can give.
I wish us all a peaceful Shabbat Chol HaMo’ed Pesach – one filled with questions that only give rise to more questions. After all, the passuk says, “To seek out a matter is the Glory of Kings” (Proverbs 25:2) and having now been freed from bondage, we should all see our innate royalty.