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Seder may be the same, but you’ve changed

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I love the anecdote of the fellow who complained to the rabbi that praying the same prayers from the siddur every day was boring. To which the rabbi replied, “It’s not the prayer that’s boring, it’s you.”

What he meant to say is that we’re constantly evolving and changing as human beings. So, if we show up to the prayer today and see the words in the exact same way we read them yesterday, then it must be us who are boring.

If we were growing and maturing all the time, then we wouldn’t find the davening repetitive and boring, as we would approach the words each day from a new perspective and with new experiences.

Think about how many times you can sing your favourite songs over and over and over. Each time you sing the melody, it talks to you differently. Your mood and headspace will affect how the music touches you.

On a similar note, I often find it interesting when couples share how their marriage has “gone stale” as if we’re talking about two pieces of bread in the cupboard or two apples in a fridge.

Humans evolve, grow, have moods, gain new perspectives, and live through changing life circumstances. So, if our marriage has gone “stale”, then we must ask ourselves if it isn’t ourself, the individual, who has gone stale and boring. And if that’s the case, we ought to work on growing our character and perspectives, and suddenly, we’ll find the marriage resurrected and fresh.

In a few days, we’ll sit down at the seder with our favourite relatives (and non-favourite relatives) and look at the exact words we have looked at in previous years.

The table will look the same.

The people will look the same (not a day older).

Your off-tune uncle will grate your ears all the same.

Your cousin will ask, once again, five minutes into the seder, “How long until we finish?”

Once again, those relatives with young kids will disappear for three quarters of the seder because “we were putting the kids to sleep”.

Your auntie (and many others) will, once again, have way too much wine to drink, and by the time it comes to the kneidlach, she will be laughing at everything and everyone in top volume.

And the kvetching about living in South Africa will be the same (hopefully not!).

What will hopefully not be the same is you. For these past 12 months have allowed you to grow and see yourself and the world through fresh eyes. The words will resonate and touch you in different ways than in the past because you aren’t the same person, and the messages you need to hear are different to what you needed to hear one year ago.

So, show up to the seder the way you show up to the concert of your favourite musician – knowing all the words but looking forward to experiencing the evening and understanding the words in a whole new light.

Don’t be boring!

  • Rabbi Levi Avtzon is the rabbi at Linksfield Shul.

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