B’tzelem – Passover: Narrative and Relationship

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Written by Margo Hughes-Robinson. Margo is an educator and rabbinical student based in New York City. Her column “B’Tzelem” focuses on interpersonal and sexual relationships through the lens of “b’tzelem Elohim,” acknowledging the image of G!d in everyone. When she’s not writing about the intersections of Torah, feminism and sexuality, Margo likes to sing karaoke, study Gemara, and hang out with her dog and husband. The views reflected in her writing represent her own personal views, and are not intended to reflect the views of any organizations, institutes or associations with whom she may be affiliated.

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Pesach, or Passover, is described by rabbinic sources as one of the four “heads of the year” in the Jewish calendar. The Seder meal and the ensuing days of holiday observance find Jewish people all over the world reflecting again on the Exodus from Egypt, holding meditations the meaning of spiritual and physical freedom in fierce dialectic with the self-imposed experience of lack through abstinence from chametz, from leavened bread. While traditional Jewish prayer and ritual feature daily references to liberation from Egypt and the song of freedom sung at the banks of the Red Sea, Passover begs us to engage more viscerally with our Jewish narratives. We again engage with G!d in desire and nostalgia, retelling and re-engaging with our people’s foundational story.

Pesach is a time to reflect on the power of narrative in our personal lives as well. I frequently find myself revisiting the foundational stories of my relationship with my partner. For many people, this kind of storytelling is ritualized, a kind of personal Seder. Maybe it takes place on anniversaries, perhaps just on the odd weeknight after a difficult day- but the revisiting of one’s relationship’s beginnings provides an effective strengthening of our psychological and physical bond.

Remembering our first dates, our significant milestones, challenges weathered together, days where we laughed until our sides hurt- this certainly doesn’t communicate new facts about these events. But the ways in which we revisit our shared narrative change with our growth as individual and partners, the contexts in which we evoke them blossoms more complex as we learn together. We bring our new selves together to meet our old selves, just as the Jewish people of 5776 sit down next week to greet and celebrate with the Jewish people at the edge of the sea to sing our story, our evolution, our selves.

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