Battling the Nemesis-The Haggadah of Gratitude
Nemesis is lame; but she is of colossal stature, like the gods, and sometimes, while her sword is not yet unsheathed, she stretches out her huge left arm and grasps her victim.
The mighty hand is invisible, but the victim totters under the dire clutch.
[George Eliot; Scenes of Clerical Life]
I’ve always been struck by the choice of words, “sword not yet unsheathed,” “huge left arm,” and, “mighty hand,” all phrases we use in the Haggadah to describe God striking the Egyptians. We could say that God was their Nemesis.
However, in the story Reverend Amos Burton, a pious man but unpopular parson, “sadly unsuited to the practice of his profession,” loses his wife in childbirth, and receives notice that he has lost his position. All has fallen apart; he feels that life is his nemesis. But it is not life, but he, who is his own nemesis, something I wonder whether he ever understands, even when, at the story’s end, twenty years later, he stands at Milly’s grave.
I picture the moment when the Egyptians are carried by their horses and chariots into the Sea, as their moment of realization that they are being carried by their own decisions, that they are their own nemesis. God’s Sword, Arm, and Hand, were released by them, not Moshe, not even God.
This would explain why Dayeinu immediately follows the counting of the miracles at the Sea; We address our role as our own nemesis with our lack of gratitude. (See “The Haggadah of Breaking Our Anger II.”)
We are so careful with all the laws of Pesach because we want to obey the law, but we can easily forget to perform the Mitzvot with gratitude, and as God’s way of saying Thank You to us (“Infectious Gratitude”).
The Egyptians too began their process of becoming their own nemesis with a lack of gratitude (Listen to, “Shemot-Thanks”).
We can celebrate the entire Seder as an expression of Gratitude:
Urchatz: Thank You for creating us in Your Image, which we honor by washing our hands. (“Haggadah-Urchatz-Rachtza”).
Karpas: Thank You for teaching us the difference between eating as an instinct and eating as royalty (“Rav Kook-Yachatz I”)
Maggid: Thank You for having experiences to share (“Teaching Our Children”), stories to tell (“Owning Our Slippers”), wisdom to convey (“Four Songs of the Four Portions”) and the opportunity (“The Story-Teller and The Maggid”) and means (“Chidah-Fourth Level of Sippur”)to so do. (“Ma Nishtana in the Warsaw Ghetto.”)
Rachtza: Thank You for constantly allowing us to wash our hands each time we rise after we fall (Walking With A Flute VIII”), so we can move ahead.
Motzi: Thank You for our creative spirit that allows us to make bread from wheat (“Finding”).
Matzah: Thank You for the humility necessary for relationships, especially with You (Pesach, Matzah, u’Maror”).
Koreich: Thank You for empowering us to share different approaches in our service of You (“Fighting The Fire IX”).
Tzafun: Thank You for empowering us to live with a sense of how much more there is to discover (“Hidden No More”).
Hallel: Thank You for the ability to create eternal realities with our words(“The Blessing of Being Able to Sing”).”
Nirtzah: Thank You for the opportunity to give You Nachas (“A Blessing For God”).
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