Editor’s Note: During the seder, we recite the Vehi SheAmda*. Below is a suggested reading on areyvut — Jewish mutual responsibility — to be read prior to the recitation.
All Israel are responsible for one another. — Talmud, Shavuot 39a
Tonight we recall the innumerable and horrible national tragedies that we have endured. “Shelo ehad bilvad amad aleinu l’haloteinu,” there hasn’t been only one wicked ruler that has attempted to wipe us off the map. Generation after generation another evil tyrant has emerged threatening to destroy us. Fortunately, “Hakadosh Baruch Hu matzileinu miyadam,” God has saved us from their deathly grips.
Yet as we remember the Pharaohs, Hitlers, and Ahmadinejads referred to in the Vehi SheAmda prayer, we are also reminded of another invaluable lesson taught by the great hasidic rabbi, Yehuda Aryeh Leib Alter, fondly referred to as the “Sfas Emes,” based on this very paragraph.
The greatest challenge facing the Jewish people is not from our enemies but rather from our internal discord. The biggest source of our personal, communal, and national struggles is “she-lo echad bilvad,” our inability to maintain a sense of unity and brotherhood among all factions of Judaism; to remember that what unites us is greater than that which divides us.
On this seder night let us remember that Kol Yisrael areyvim zeh bazeh, we are all responsible for our fellow Jews. All of us desire for Israel to dwell securely in her borders. All of us want Judaism to continue to thrive and flourish. All of us hope that our newly minted Greater MetroWest community achieves even greater success and reaches new heights, and all of us pray for the welfare of our parents, spouse, family, and friends.
Let us resolve, therefore, to strive to achieve a sense of unity and harmony in our homes, community, country, and homeland, by not allowing the squabbles and frustrations to break us apart. As we now raise our wine glass and give thanks to God for his divine protection, let us also extend a thank you to everyone around us at our seder table and beyond for their work on behalf of Judaism and Jewish life. And in that spirit of togetherness, friendship, and fellowship we pray that God will continue to keep us safe, secure, and successful.
* “And this promise to our ancestors is also for us! Not only once have they risen up to destroy us but in every generation they rise up to destroy us. And the Holy One, Blessed be He, saves us from their hands.”