Here & Now
No longer forward nor behind
I look in hope or fear,
But, grateful, take the good I find,
The best of now and here.
John Greenleaf Whittier 1859
These words struck me as I was reflecting on the Haggadah. Much of the Pesach Seder is either looking forward or behind. We look forward as we prepare for Pesach; even when we search for Chametz, we place it aside till the morrow to be burned. (Countdown to Pesach 15)
We look behind as we burn, for we are taught that this is a process of spiritual cleansing as well.
We spend the day preparing for the Seder, looking forward with hope, and perhaps a little bit of fear as we wonder how well everything will run.
We look forward as we make Kiddush over “the first of four cups of wine.” We wash our hands to prepare for what comes next, Karpas, something difficult to define, that does not, without some creative mental and homiletical gymnastics, address the now and here.
We break the middle matzah placing half away for the future. My experience is that it is difficult to be fully present in Ha Lachma Anya, especially when the younger children are chomping at the bit to demonstrate their Ma Nishtana skills. Questions look to the future; the answers.
We spend a great deal of time speaking of the past, and some, dreaming of the future, but where is the now and here?
I first thought it was in the charge that each of us see ourselves as if we went out of Egypt, but there is that past tense again; “went out!”
The meal is great but we must look forward and save some space for the Afikoman.
I experience Hallel as the preparation for the next stage of life; forward.
The closing section, Nirtzah, although it honors what we have done in the past, is that moment of here and now; we are experiencing the state of accomplishment, in which we celebrate that God found pleasure in our Seder.
It’s an official moment; everyone does it. It’s standard. How do we know that we actually exist in a state of Nirtzah?
Do we examine and evaluate what we have done?
Do we wait to see what happens next to be certain that Nirtzah; it was accepted?
Nirtzah, this here and now moment, cannot depend on another, even God; it is a celebration of our own state of mind: can we allow ourselves to experience an unquestioned state of Nirtzah?
You know what?
Such acceptance demands a great deal of personal freedom…
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