Rabbi Michael Adam Latz of Shir Tikvah Congregation in Minneapolis gave this powerful and courageous invocation earlier this month before the Minnesota State House of Representatives. As we prepare for Passover, I thought I’d share it with you. Maybe some fodder for your seder?
Mr. Speaker, members of this great assembly, we join together this day in the solemn duty of leading our great state of Minnesota.
I lift up this prayer for all the work that it is before us:
We are at the eve of the Jewish festival of Passover. Each year, our people gather around the seder table and tell the story of our ancestors’ liberation. We call upon our most vulnerable–our children–and privilege them with the responsibility of asking awesome moral questions. Tradition teaches these four children are wise, wicked, simple, and one who does not know yet how to ask.
At this season, we ask moral questions of you, our elected officials in this great temple of democracy.
The child full of wisdom asks: I am hungry to learn, to grow, to be a full citizen. What will you do to ensure my friends and I have a future?
The child mislabeled wicked inquires: If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?
The simple child ponders: Why is it so hard for people like my parents who work hard and play by the rules to catch a break?
The child who does not know to ask the question, looks to you in wonder:
Will you, this year, reach across the aisles of your hostility and indifference to lead our great state with dignity, with compassion, with an eye to the future where all our citizens, the weathiest and the most vulnerable alike, lie down each night, secure with the hope that tomorrow will be better than today?
Will you bow to the idols of fear, cynicism, and despair? Or will you join with the people of Minnesota and, like the ancient Israelites, guide them through the desert toward a promised land of equity and mutuality, respect, and opportunity?
Will you lead with the courage to compromise, treating those with whom you disagree about policy with the same God-given dignity and civility you rightfully demand for yourselves?
In this season of redemption, of celebrating God’s loving outstretched arm of freedom, may each of us be liberated from narrow thinking and petty recriminations, so that we might lead the people of this great state into the vast expanse of a future bright with hope, possibility, and security.
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