Image: Two lambs. (FraukeFeind/pixabay)

When I searched through some of the free image sites online, most of the pictures I found when I searched for “Passover” looked like the one above.

Most of the world doesn’t know much about Jews. They know what they read (in the Bible, in the media, in books) and they know what they’ve heard. The Christian world knows us through the filter of Christianity. For Christians, Passover is a festival mentioned in the Gospels, and it’s about sacrificial lambs, both real and metaphoric.

Never mind that we haven’t been in the lamb-sacrificing business since spring of the year 70. That was the year the Romans knocked down the Temple – and since then, we have honored the commandments to make sacrifices with prayers, not with lambs.

There are Jews who want to rebuild the Temple. I’m not one of them. For one thing, someone else’s place of worship now stands on that spot, and it’s holy to them. For another, as Maimonides taught, God was ready for us to be done with the sacrifices. They were an early version of worship, given to us when we could not have understood anything else.

For me, today, Passover is a festival of freedom. It calls me to free others from bondage. It calls me to free myself from old, bad ideas and habits. It calls me back to that homely altar, the dining room table, to eat matzah and ask questions and never, ever to settle for an easy answer. It calls me to gather with Jews, to laugh and cry and do mitzvot, to not lose heart when the bad guys seem to be in charge, or when my own internalized Pharaohs give me grief.

I wish every reader of this blog a zissen Pesach, a sweet Passover. May your find your courage to do your work in this world. And may there be no more sacrificial lambs.

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