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The Foundation Stone Haggadah: Bread of Affliction: The Puppeteer

He decided at thirteen to become a vegan. His parents and siblings love meat, but he will not allow them to eat what they want. The family must adhere to his standards. A teenager is controlling his family. He is the one pulling the strings.

She committed to wake up at 8am each morning. She asked that he parents wake her up. They do at 8, 8:15 and continue to wake her up every 15 minutes or so, until they lose their tempers. She complains that they are nagging. She is controlling the situation. She is the one pulling the strings. She is the puppeteer.

He is grossly overweight, dangerously so. Everyone in the community has been begging him for years to see a doctor. He refuses without consequence. Everyone has been dancing to his tune for years and they do not realize that he, who cannot control his eating, controls the entire community. He is calling the shots. He is the puppeteer.

Now I understand how the same Matzah, which is called “Lechem Oni” can mean both – The Bread of Affliction – and The Bread Over Which We Respond. I always thought that this was just another of the contradictions of Pesach and the Seder. I now understand that as long as we spend our lives responding to other people we remain slaves, controlled by the vegans, the sleepers and the eaters.

Perhaps we begin Maggid – involving ourselves in the story of Pesach with the Bread of Affliction and Responses to take some time to reflect on the situations in our lives in which we have allowed others to pull the strings.

A puppeteer controls the puppets in his or her play. God not only allows, but nurtures independence. God allows the maximum slack on our strings, so to speak, even as He guides us toward developing our independence and earning our freedom.

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