Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

An Open Letter to Our Children

Before every High Holiday and Passover season, Mrs. Neda Mehdizadeh spearheads the wonderful mitzvah of sending a care package to all of our college students. In addition, she also honors me with the opportunity to write a few words to our students. I am sharing with you here my Passover wishes to all our students, and to each and every one of us:

On behalf our entire Sephardic Temple family, I would like to wish you an uplifting and wonderful Festival of Freedom. Also, I would like to share with you a few words about the meaning of Passover for you personally, as a young and promising individual.

Passover, in Judaism, is not only about political freedom. Passover is also about tuning in internally, and reconnecting to our soul’s deepest and holiest yearnings and longings. Passover is a reminder that we can, and that we should be, the architects and designers of our own life-story.

Passover is a resounding reminder to every Jew, in all times, and in every place in the world, that we are, as individuals, the masters of our own destiny. That each one of us is the director of his present, and the author of his future. That we don’t have to blindly and thoughtlessly follow farcical social norms and superficial cultural dictates.  That we can truly liberate ourselves from the tyranny and shackles of external expectations. That we really do have a choice, and that we don’t have to exist in spiritual bondage. That we are free.

As Jews, for thousands of years we stuck to our guns. We stood tall and strong, even in the most adverse of circumstances, undeterred by the shifting sands of human history. We always remained resolute and determined to live life according to our own beliefs and principals, even when we were mocked, scorned and persecuted. Even when we had to pay the highest of prices, and forfeit our very existence, in order to stay true to ourselves.

In many ways, Judaism and Passover are about “The courage to be”, and about “The right to be different.” The Mishanah teaches us that when a human being makes a coin –  say like a 25 cents coin, each coin comes out exactly the same. But when G-d makes a coin (a human soul) –  each soul is created in a unique fashion – each soul is utterly distinct and unique. And it is precisely because each one of us is different, holy and unique, that each one of us has a unique contribution to make.

A great Chassidic master, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, teaches us that “The entire world is akin to a very narrow bridge,” and that “The main thing to recall, is to have no fear at all.”

We, the Jewish people, never allowed fear to paralyze and defeat us. From Abraham in antiquity, who fearlessly smashed all the false idols of his time, to Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein in modernity – who fearlessly re-conceptualized the structure of the universe and the intricacies of the human soul – we Jews are a people who relentlessly seek to find and to proliferate Truth and holiness.

We are both an ancient people, and an eternal people. As befitting the world’s first global people, we are true cosmopolitans. But at the same time – we are also the heirs a of particularly distinguished and unique spiritual heritage, a heritage and a legacy that we are determined to perpetuate and to expand, With G-d’s help, until the coming of Mashiach and the final and ultimate redemption of the world, speedily in our days, Amen.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Sessler

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