B’chol dor va’dor -- In Every Generation…
B’chol dor va’dor - In every generation. That famous Hagaddah phrase occurs twice, with two different endings:
In every generation… someone stands up against us, the Jewish People, to destroy us.
In every generation… a person is obligated to see himself as if he actually came out of Egypt.
Almost as soon as we finish with Pesach, and we take note of the calendar, we are confronted by what might be the greatest, most horrifying example of the first B’chol dor va’dor. Less than a week after Pesach, we turn to the 27th of Nissan – Yom HaShoah V’HaGevurah – Day of Remembering the Holocaust and Acts of Heroism. During the lifetime of some of us. Relatively recently for the rest of us. First generation survivors. Second generation. Third. Even fourth. But there are fewer and fewer people still around telling us about the horrors of the Holocaust. Plenty of books and films and museums to remind us and refresh our mental images.
And what of the second B’chol dor va’dor? The obligation to see ourselves as if each of us had actually come out of Egypt. What was it like to be oppressed? What was it like to have to leave your home and the life you knew? What was it like to witness the miracles that led to freedom? And what was it like to wander for forty years, wondering when you would be able to enter the “Promised Land” and find safety? And why should we, living in freedom in the twenty-first century, recall this… why should we need to recall this?
It is through our people’s stories – both lived through and reimagined – that we are able to keep our hearts opened to others. It is through our people’s stories – both lived through and reimagined – that we know all too well what happens when people, who know all too well, stand idly by while others are oppressed and persecuted.
And it is through our people’s stories – and our own – that we celebrate all our stories b’chol dor va’dor – in every generation.
Wishes from my home to yours for a sweet and joyous – and story-filled Pesach,
Rabbi Enid C. Lader