Four "Fragments" for Your Passover Seder

This year, as Earth Day ends Passover begins. As the traditional Haggadah says, In every generation we face destruction -- and so in every generation all of us -- every human being --  must seek freedom, justice, and healing anew.This year, this generation, that includes healing for our wounded Mother Earth, now suffering from the modern Plagues brought on by modern Corporate Carbon Pharaohs.  We are offering you four "fragments" -- inserts -- to help your Seder in your seeking. In addition to the traditional ritual objects and the newly traditional orange, we suggest you bring to your Seder an inflatable Globe, a symbol of justice, freedom, and healing for all human Earthlings and all Earth. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ [Early in the Seder, perhaps after the Four Questions, we lift the Seder plate and people around the table read these lines -- each person, one line or paragraph:] “Why is there charoset on the Seder plate? That’s the most secret Question at the Seder – nobody even asks it. And it’s got the most secret answer: none. "You’ve probably heard somebody claim that charoset is the mortar the ancient Israelite slaves had to paste between the bricks and stones of those giant warehouses they were building for Pharaoh. "But that’s a cover story. You think that mortar was so sweet, so spicy, so delicious that every ancient Israelite just had to slaver some mortar on his tongue? "OK, maybe it’s a midrash? Warning that slavery may come to taste sweet, and this is itself a deeper kind of slavery? "No. The oral tradition transmitted by charoset is not by word of mouth but taste of mouth. A kiss of mouth. A full-bodied “kisses sweeter than wine” taste of mouth "Charoset is an embodiment of by far the earthiest, kissyest, bodyest book of the Hebrew Bible —— the Song of Songs. Charoset is literally a full-bodied taste of the Song. The Song is the recipe for charoset. "The 'recipe' appears in verses from the Song: “Feed me with apples and with raisin-cakes; “Your kisses are sweeter than wine; “The scent of your breath is like apricots; “Your cheeks are a bed of spices; “The fig tree has ripened; “Then I went down to the walnut grove. "Mix these and you will taste love among human beings and love between the Earth and human Earthlings. For the Song is the Garden of Eden for a grown-up human race, and charoset is the foretaste of Delight." [And for a rich experience of the Song of Songs as an aspect of Passover, if you're in or near NYC on Friday evening April 29 (7th night of Pesach), come to the "Song of Songs Seder" in which Rabbi Phyllis Berman & I will be teaching/chanting, at West End Synagogue.] ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ [After the traditional dripping of wine or grape juice from our cups as we recite the traditional Ten Plagues,  someone reads:] "As the community recites the Plagues, we diminish our pleasure in the fruit of the vine. We grieve for the Earth and human beings who have suffered from these Plagues.  And we ask ourselves: Today, what Plagues are our own “pharaohs,” the 1%, the global corporations, bringing on our Earth? [As together we say each Plague aloud, we drip some wine or grape-juice from our glasses.] •  Undrinkable water poisoned by fracking. •  Asthma: Lungs suffering from coal dust and gasoline fumes. •   Suffering and death for fish, birds, vegetation, and human beings from the oil blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. •   Smashed mountains and dead coal-miners in the lovely hills of West Virginia. •    Summer-long intense heat wave in Europe, killing thousands of elders. •   Unheard-of floods in Pakistan, putting one-fifth of the country under water. •    Superstorm Sandy, killing hundreds in Haiti and America. Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, killing more than 6,000 people. •   Years of drought, parched fields, dead crops, and fires in Africa, Russia, Syria, Australia, and California  -- in some, setting off hunger, starvation, civil wars, genocide. [Pause. Everyone breathes. Then the community says in unison:] And we pledge ourselves to act so that the Tenth Plague does not happen. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ [An African-American liberation song, centuries old, with one new verse:] When Israel was in Egypt’s land, Let My people go; Oppressed so hard they could not stand, Let My people go; Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt’s land, Tell old Pharaoh: Let My people go! The pillar of cloud shall clear the way, Let My people go; A fire by night, a shade by day, Let My people go. Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt’s land, Tell old Pharaoh: Let My people go! As Israel stood by the water-side, Let My people go; At God’s command it did divide, Let My people go. Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt’s land, Tell old Pharaoh: Let My people go! When they had reached the other shore, Let My people go; They sang the song of freedom o’er, Let My people go. Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt’s land, Tell old Pharaoh: Let My people go! Oh, set all Earth from bondage free, Let ALL My peoples go.                   And let all life be free to Be, Let air and water flow. Go down, Moses, way down in every land, Tell ALL Pharaohs: Let My creation go! ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ [Close to the end of the Seder, the Cup of Elijah is passed around the table, and each person pours some wine or grape juice from it into the next person’s cup. All say together:] “On the Shabbat just before Passover, we read the last passage of the last of the Prophets, Malachi, who proclaims on behalf of the Breath of Life: “Before the coming of the great and awesome day when the Breath of Life may become a Hurricane of Change,  I will send the Prophet Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to the children and the hearts of the children to the parents, lest the Earth be utterly destroyed.”  [The community rises and  goes to open a door to the outside, to welcome Elijah, and they say together:] “As we open our door to the winds of the world, so we open our hearts to the future, to the hearts of our children and their children.  And we open our hearts to our parents and their parents, to the wisdom of many generations." [All come back to the table. Everyone lifts her/his cup that now contains a sip from Elijah's cup, and all say in unison:] "We open ourselves, each one of us, to take on the joyful task of Elijah, to heal the Earth from her suffering.” [Those present say aloud some action they will take.] ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ [At the end of the Seder, all sing, passing a Globe from hand to hand around the table:] We have the whole world in our hands. We have  the frogs and the forests in our hands, We have  the wind and the honeybees in our hands, We have  the whole world in our hands! We have  the wheat and the mountains in our hands, We have  the winds and the oceans in our hands, We have the rain and the rivers in our hands, We have  the whole world in our hands! We have the trees and tigers in our hands, We have  our sisters and our brothers in our hands We have our children and their children in our hands, WE HAVE  THE WHOLE WORLD IN OUR HANDS! ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ If you decide to use any of these "fragments in a Seder for the Earth," please make a contribution to The Shalom Center to help sustain us as we keep working toward a sustainable world -- by clicking on the "Sustain" button on the left-hand margin of this page.. Thanks!


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