Thursday, April 2, 2015

Using Passover to talk about G-d

A few weeks ago I had an interesting conversation with my Sister-in-Law.  Let me start by saying that I love her dearly.  We are very close, and I'm fortunate to have her and her family in my life.  Buy my SIL is a devout Christian.  Her children quote bible passages, and all of her children have been baptized.  These are wonderful things for their family.  And sometimes it can lead the two of us, religiously devout individuals of different faiths, to have interesting conversations.

Most recently it was about how Jews view G-d.  The reason it was so interesting, there isn't much talk of G-d in most Jewish homes.

When I was a young child I remember thinking that G-d only loved Christians.  So much of the general christian message is that G-d loves you.  They have bumper stickers and entire rock bands dedicated to making sure they you know that if you accept Jesus- G-d loves you.  Obviously I'm simplifying the message and the meaning, but for a young girl and teenager, just thinking that G-d loves you is a powerful message, and one that's often missing from Judaism.

When we think about how we teach Judaism to our children there are many pieces.  There are the holidays, there are the prayers and there is the language.  But no where in there is a specific discussion about G-d.  

Judaism is generally an action oriented religion.  We spend little to no time talking about what happens after we die, and are devoted entirely to living our life the best we can, with purpose, dignity and mitzvot on this earth and in this way.  Contrast this to the Christian notion of working towards and eternity with G-d, and you can see that there might be a problem with G-dly talk among Jews.

I challenge parents of all children to use Passover as a chance to talk about G-d. 

Use this holiday to teach your children to talk to G-d.  To know that G-d is there, in your everyday.  That, as Rodney Atkins sings, they can talk to G-d like they were talking to a friend.

Passover is the time of year when we talk about miracles.  When we must, with liberal use, talk about amazing things that happened that we can't explain.  There are no Esthers' or Kingly decrees.  There's no Maccabees to blame for our salvation.  There are seas splitting miraculously, and blood, frogs and locusts.  Even if you are a bit squeamish about discussing the deaths for the animals or the deaths of the firstborns, don't shy away from embracing G-d.

Use the phrase G-d did this for me.  Yup.  It's a classic Passover text, but did you really stop to think about what it means?  Yes, it has a sea of meaning in terms of how we have come from slavery in this generation.  But think beyond that.  When you embrace that G-d has an action and an existence in your life- there he will be for your children as well.

I and not an angel, I and not a Seraph.  Again, classic language.  'I' meaning G-d speaking in the first person.  Emphasis again and again that G-d did this.  It's typical for us to talk about how Moses talked to Pharoah and told him to let my people go.  And you could watch the entire movie about Passover and think of the hero Moses.  Don't let the fact that G-d did miracles escape the moment.

Dayeinu.  This song tells the story of how it would have been enough to escape slavery, go through the dessert, get to the promised land, etc.  All of these things are miracles.  This song is an amazing way to discuss how G-d impacts our everyday.  How he's given us Shabbat to relax and reconnect, how everything around us is holy.

At the end of the day, it has to be a conversation between your child and you.  The best way for our children to understand that G-d loves them, and that G-d is present in their lives is for them to hear it from you- their parents.  To point out to our children the wonder of G-d's universe.  The glory of his creations.

The next time your child asks why it's raining- tell them because G-d made it so.  Each time you bring him into your life it makes it easier for your child to turn to him in times of need.

Because he is there for you.  Because he loves you.

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