SoCal Rabbi on Passover: Coming Out of a Narrow Place

Passover, the Jewish holiday commemorating the deliverance of  Israelites from bondage in Egypt, begins at sundown Wednedsay,
with observant families throughout the Southland holding a traditional feast called a Seder.
Passover is observed for seven days by Jews in Israel and eight days by many Jews outside Israel because of different interpretations of Jewish law. Seders are held on the first two days of Passover outside Israel.
To Rabbi Laura Geller of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, "Passover is powerful because it operates on four levels simultaneously" -- historical, political, psychological and spiritual.
"The whole point of Passover is the coming out of Egypt," Geller said. "The Hebrew word for Egypt comes from the word that means narrow place. The exodus from narrow place is what Passover is all about."
The political element is that in "every generation there is story of coming out of a narrow place," Geller said, citing the 1985 book by political philosopher Michael Walzer "Exodus and Revolution" "in which he argues the Exodus story is the paradigm for all national liberation movements since then."

Passover's psychological level is that "each one of us has our own narrow place, our own personal Egypt" and "a spiritual level of what are the resources that it takes to move out of narrow places to a promised land," Geller said.

"At my seder table, people will be telling the story in their own way about what tight spaces they've been in this year," Geller said. "Whether they're aware of it or not, it's a way of telling the story of Passover."

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