A few of my friends and colleagues have been conducting a great project, called Tweet the Exodus. Assigned to represent various characters or groups from the Exodus from
Some have praised this effort as a great innovation: that is, applying social network media as a tool for transmitting tradition in a new or creative manner. I actually see this a bit differently. I would suggest that Tweet the Exodus is a continuation: the use of new media to tell the tale of the Exodus is an extension of what’s been pedagogical intent of celebrating Passover all along. The Torah states v’higad’ta l’vincha – “you shall explain to your child on that day, ‘It is because of what the Eternal did for me when I went free from
In this way, Passover itself is the original social network theory. From admitting “my father was a fugitive Aramean” (Deuteronomy 26:5) to the Talmudic invention of the Four Questions (BT Pesahim 115b); from opening the door for Elijah to the addition of an orange on the Seder plate: Passover is the instance par excellence of our sacred midrashic endeavor. To incorporate new elements, to create new traditions, to recast and reinvent parts of the tradition – in order to fulfill the mitzvah of making Passover real, while connecting genuinely with others.
It is no coincidence that Passover – with its great multi-media Seder (every one of our physical and emotional senses are engaged) – is easily the most widely-observed holiday for American Jews. Sure, we could argue that this is because it is truly a home-based celebration (and certainly it’s easier to handle being with our crazy relatives than to manage the baggage of attending synagogue, especially for those most precariously connected to formal Jewish life). More so, I deeply believe it is because of the potent theme (freedom demands our empathy for the condition of others) which is delivered in such a powerful, multivalent way.
Approaching Passover has been enhanced by the creative people behind Tweet the Exodus. May we each find new and renewing ways to declare the spiritual promise of the holiday: this year we are here, next year in
Chag sameyach – wishing you a spirited, engaging, uplifting Passover!
(and, follow me @jazzrabbi too)