On Tuesday, March 31 I led a class called “Spiritual Preparation for Passover.” One of Passover’s traditional names is Z’man Cheruteinu, the Season of Our Liberation. I suggested that one way to prepare for Passover was to list all of the questions we might have about the nature of liberation and freedom, so that we might think deeply about these questions. The class members generated a stimulating list of questions, and I wrote them all down. Perhaps they might spur discussion at your seder table and beyond. Enjoy!
Questions for the Passover Seder 5775
Why can’t we let everybody be free?
How far does my responsibility extend, and how do I discern where to put my energy?
What is freedom?
How do we free ourselves from our parents’ idea of proper faith, Judaism and tradition when we do not connect with that interpretation?
How do we free ourself from ourself?
Is there a connection between aging and freedom?
Where do the rights of freedom intersect with the responsibilities of freedom?
What is the difference between free will and destiny?
Why am I always moving from slavery to freedom and back again?
How much of your personal safety do you have to sacrifice for your personal freedom?
What are you willing to risk for freedom?
What is spiritual freedom? What does “spiritual freedom” mean?
How does spiritual freedom relate to the idea of holiness?
If the highest rule in Torah is “love your neighbor as yourself”, why don’t we give ourselves that love as well so that we can offer it freely?
What is the risk involved in giving yourself the freedom to love yourself?
Does there have to be inherent tension between generations, men and women, siblings? Why?
When we are talking about freedom, why does the Passover story contain so much insensitivity to animals and other humans? Why is that okay?
How do you deal with and make sense of this story where others suffer while we are spared?
Why are we so smart most of the time, and then lose our ability to think symbolically when we encounter this story of the Exodus?
Is it possible to be truly free when others are not?
When is self-defense what I must do, even if it causes harm to others?
Is freedom the highest goal?
Can a person be internally free while at the same time being imprisoned or enslaved?
What is inner freedom?
How can we be free when we are still eating animals?
How does the telling of the story enlighten me? Is it through the questions it provokes, or through some other quality of storytelling?
How do we understand “Dayenu”?
Does safety have to be sacrificed to achieve freedom?
How of of yourself are you willing to sacrifice fro someone else’s freedom?
Would I have been willing to leave Egypt?
After everything he went through, why couldn’t Moses enter the Promised Land?
Is there a Promised Land to enter?
How can I start this process a month ahead of Passover’s arrival?
What are slaves, and why can’t I have one?
Do we have slaves, and what should we do about this?
What or who are our Pharaohs and masters, and how do we liberate ourselves?
How do I stay true to my practices and beliefs, and be accepting of how others want to live?
How do we figure out what to “work on” and what to accept about ourselves?
How can I be at ease with my own little safe corner of the world, when the world is in such tumult?
Why are we commanded to imagine that we ourselves were slaves and went free, but not commanded to imagine ourselves as Pharaoh, too?
Is my guilt at having more than others a useful emotion?
How do I gratefully accept the good life that I have, and still remain aware and active in working for equality and human dignity?