“In every generation one must look upon himself as if he personally had gone out of Egypt.” (Pesachim 116b)
b’chol dor vador chayav adam leerot et atzmo e’eelu hu yatza mee-mitzrayim.
Every year, as we reach this passage in the Hagaddah I think about how to deliver the message. How does one transfer an experience to others? How do I see myself as if I had personally gone out of Egypt while also facilitating my own children’s experiences?
The ability to see myself as though I myself had gone out of Egypt requires me to think about my own afflictions and the habits that enslave me (too many to share here). And yet I wonder, can I experience the sensation of freedom despite my metaphoric slavery? And how do I possibly share the experience with my children.
Is becoming a part of the story, inserting ourselves into the long chain of our Jewish heritage, be as simple as repetition and reflection? My children often “remember” stories about their early childhood from photographs or stories that they have heard from others. They have learned to accept these stories as their own, so much so, that they are happy to retell them.
We tell the story of Passover every year. The children are able to retell and insert details into it. This story, too, becomes their own, perhaps more distant, at first, and slowly becoming part of their own history, their own experience.
So this year, as I get ready for Passover, I look around the school and the preparations in each of the classrooms, and I rejoice. I revel in the fact that we all share the responsibility of educating our children and embracing them as they join our Jewish journey as part of our heritage and long-standing tradition.