מצליחה להביא את הטוב מכל המגזרים. סיון רהב-מאיר
מצליחה להביא את הטוב מכל המגזרים. סיון רהב-מאיר צילום: אייל בן יעיש

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin (http://inthelandoftheJews.blogspot.com)

1. So how was Seder night? How was leaving Egypt? Note that Seder night is a climactic moment, yet it is not the end but rather the beginning of a process. There is a mitzvah that begins now -- to count the days, one after the next, until the festival of Shavuot. This mitzvah is known as the counting of the Omer and it goes on for 49 days.

2. But why should we count? When we are waiting for something important (a wedding, for example, or the arrival of summer vacation) we live in anticipation of the special day. On the festival of Shavuot we commemorate receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai. The counting expresses our eager expectation of the precious gift that awaits us when the great day finally arrives.

3. This is not just a technical counting. In order to receive the Torah, we need to prepare. It is customary to regard this period as a seven week opportunity to work on our character traits, to improve ourselves. During these days it is also a common practice to study Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Fathers) which focuses on proper conduct between one person and another.

4. In the synagogue, the Omer is counted each night at the conclusion of the arvit (maariv) prayer. There are those who register online to receive all kinds of digital reminders in order not to miss the number of the day to be counted. xIf you forget to count at night, you can count without a blessing during the following day and resume saying the blessing for the next night's count. If you totally forget one day, you continue counting without saying the blessing.

Moadim L'Simcha! Have a pleasant count.

And here is some food for thought:

1. In the course of Pesach cleaning, I came across a notebook that included part of a speech delivered 25 years ago to the German parliament by *Ezer Weizman*, former Minister of Defense and President of Israel. It seems to me that the following words can give us strength regarding the present security situation and are also appropriate for Seder night:

"Every Jew, in every generation, is obligated to see himself as if he was in Egypt, and also as if he was in the places and took part in the events of all prior generations. Two hundred generations have passed in the history of my people yet they appear, in my eyes, as several days.

"Only two hundred generations have passed since a man arose whose name was Avraham. He left his land and his birth place and went to a land that today is mine. Only two hundred generations passed between Avraham's purchase of the Machpelah Cave in the city of Hebron and the murderous attacks against Jews in my own generation in that same city. From the Pillar of Fire in the Exodus from Egypt to the pillars of smoke in the Holocaust... I, born from the seed of Avraham in the land of Avraham, was part of it all.

"I was a slave in Egypt. I received the Torah at Mount Sinai. Together with Yehoshua, I crossed the Jordan River. I entered Jerusalem with David, was exiled from it with Zedekiah, and did not forget it by the rivers of Babylon. When the Lord returned the exiles of Zion, I dreamed among those who rebuilt its ramparts. I fought the Romans and was banished from Spain. I was bound to the stake in Mainz. I studied Torah in Yemen and lost my family in Kishinev. I was incinerated in Treblinka, rebelled in Warsaw, and immigrated to the Land of Israel, the country from which I had been exiled and where I had been born, from which I come and to which I return.

"Just as it is demanded of us, by the power of memory, to live through each day and each experience of our past, so too it is demanded of us, by the power of hope, to look expectantly toward each day of our future."

2.

"I want to share a thought which, if internalized, could perhaps change our lives," Rabbi Shneur Ashkenazi declared to participants of the "Mitchadshot" (Women's Renewal) workshop.

"Which mitzvah is the most popular on Seder night? It's the afikoman, of course, over which negotiations are conducted with the kids in order to get it back from them before midnight and finish the Seder properly. What is this game all about? What's the idea anyway?

"On Seder night, the night of education, a paramount educational insight is revealed: Children search for what we hide. They do not look at the table, but between the sofa cushions. Children do not focus on what their parents say to them in public, what they preach, but at what their parents truly care about, deep in their hearts.

"The most important thing we can give to our children is what is most important to us. And they will know what this is. If their father has something that he is unwilling to give up, if their mother has a value that is most precious to her, the children will absorb and appreciate it too. Our children know how to read us. If we volunteer, if we attend a Torah class, if we show enthusiasm for a principle that is engraved deep in our souls -- we will not need to talk about it all that much. Our children will see and understand the 'afikoman' that is inside us.

"In the world of marketing, there is a well-known saying: 'People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will not forget what you made them feel.' This is also true of the influence we have on our children. If we can inspire our children, get them excited, and fill them with joy over the right experiences, they will not forget the feeling and the meaning of those moments.

"Therefore, the more we will demand of ourselves, the less we will need to fight with our children. They will simply understand the message that is most important to us and integrate it into their lives. Seder night is an opportunity to excite them over the most exciting story in all of human history, the Exodus from Egypt."