Does your Seder conversation ever get boring? Passover means many things to many people. Sometimes there is a raucous conversation. Sometimes the kids dominate. Sometimes the Jews are outnumbered. What counts is that people come together. Whatever the character of your Seder this year, you may come across a moment where you want to change the direction of conversation. Whether it needs a jump start or a right turn, here are four conversation starters for your Seder.
What am I supposed to do with all the Matzah?
It seems that Costco packaging has taken over Matzah distribution. The supermarket seems to only carry multi-pacs of Matzah. (Maybe this is just a California thing.) My family just doesn’t need this much Matzah. We have our traditions like Nutella, PB&J, and tuna. We used to try to make Matzah Brei (which is kind of like Matzah french toast). Even so, we come no where near finishing our Matzah stash. And that conversation is old. What are some creative things to do with Matzah? It seems like Matzah could make a good building material with legos, or could be used to clean up spills or stop flooding. Is it ok to donate to a homeless shelter, or is it cruel to pass on the bread of affliction to those who are already struggling?
Do you tend towards too much or too little Order in your life?
Seder is the Hebrew word for Order. When we have a Passover Seder, notice how we use the Haggadah to guide us through the ceremonial meal. There is a certain order to things. At the same time however, every Seder is different. One year we may spend more time on telling the story of the Exodus, and another there may be a skit about the plagues. The best Passover Seders embrace balanced order – they stick to the stories and rituals, but are flexible to meet the needs of the particular audience.
Order is also a soul trait in Mussar. You guessed it, Order governs, among other things, how orderly we are. (Order also governs the Laws of Nature, but that is the subject of another post.) We all share the Soul Trait of Order, but have different amounts of it. People on one extreme never plan anything, and live in a perpetual state of chaos. On the other end of the spectrum, people can bring so much order and control that it stifles freedom.
After someone answers, ask his or her spouse or partner. I think Order is one area where opposites attract.
What are you Grateful for?
We tell the story of the Exodus every year to remind us that we were slaves, and now we are free. We sing the song Dayenu as a means of saying thank you for all the things God did for us when we were liberated from Egypt. BTW, I am a bit of a scrooge when it comes to the song. This video of the Maccabeets singing Dayenu both captures the lethargy I feel, as well as transforms Dayenu into something cool.
Whatever you think of the song, Passover is a great opportunity to enumerate the things we are grateful for. Mussar practitioners will know to find something to be grateful for even in the bad or ordinary.
What is your narrow place?
The Hebrew word for Egypt is literally translated as “narrow place.” So the story of the Exodus can be a metaphor for personal transformation. We all have a narrow place, something that constricts us and holds us back. Often, we need the strength of community to help us get through. Passover is a great opportunity to deepen community connections.
You might also like: The One Thing You Should Know About Passover
Image Credit: #snoopy gets ready for #Passover #Peanuts #squirrelhill #pittsburgh by Harriet Schwartz via Flickr CC