The afikomen is a half-piece of matzo which is broken in two and hidden at the beginning of the Passover seder. At the end of the seder the children search and find it (they’re often rewarded with a prize).
Hassidic Rabbi Yehudah Alter tells us that finding the afikomen is a metaphor for redemption. Before the Matzah is broken it is whole. Complete. Perfection. The unity of the Jewish people/Judaism/morality/God/the world.
What do we do with this piece of Matzah?
We break it into pieces. Leaving one piece on the table and the second piece we hide with the intention of having the next generation find it.
Now, Rabbi Yehuda Alter thought about finding the afikomen as a symbol for the Messiah. I could talk about how the next generation is destined to retrieve fragments of God through a quest to find the hidden treasures (“afikomen”) within Judaism, Torah and Halacha to create some sort of messianic future.
But that’s not me. I don’t believe in a Messiah who will literally come.
However, I do believe that it’s our duty as Jews to strive to create a more perfect world, to NEVER accept that a concrete Messiah has already arrived and to continue to believe that the metaphorical Messiah will come. Why? Because that belief will keep us constantly working to create a better future.
I think the future of the Jewish people rests in having a strong Israel.
I’ve already seen amazing things from my Jewish generation working to create a better future.
I was one of more than 10,000 Jews who traveled thousands of miles to compete in the Macccabiah athletic games with other Jews in Israel, our Jewish state.
Working on an EcoLodge in the Golan Heights I heard artillery fire over the border in Syria with Jewish volunteers from England, Russia and Canada.
When I volunteered with Israel’s Magen David Adom , I served with hundreds of other Jews from South Africa, Australia, and Europe as well as the U.S.
In the Israeli Defense Force program, where I’m training on a military base, I’ve met Jews from France, Germany, England, Costa Rica. Many also intend to serve in the Israeli army.
There are countless Jews from around the world who are passionate about the state of Israel and have sacrificed blood, sweat and tears to make Israel a better place.
I love Israel. It’s my second home. But, it’s not perfect.
Outside the United States and Canada, Israel has the largest number of NASDAQ listed companies. Yet, women aren’t allowed to sing, read aloud from the Torah or wear a tallit at the Western Wall.
Out Magazine named Israel the “gay capital of the Middle East”. Yet, gay couples can’t get married in Israel. And all marriages must be sanctioned by an Orthodox rabbi.
Israel invented drip irrigation, Voicemail, the first baby monitor, first flying car and AOL’s instant messaging system. Israel has a system of universal health care and has the 6th highest life expectancy in the world. Yet, roughly 21% of Israel lives under the poverty line.
How do we fix what is broken and continue the process of redemption?
We start with caring and forming a relationship with our Promised Land.
The Midrash refers to Jerusalem as Ir Tzedek, city of righteousness, and Israel as Or Lagoyim, a light to other nations.
It is our task to ensure that Israel will continue to serve as a light to other nations #OnlyMiddleEastDemocracy #LargestMiddleEastEconomy
I sincerely hope that the future generations . . . Not just Shana, Elli and Amalia, but Maya, Liat, Lisa and our family’s future funny Jewish babies will grow to love Israel and Judaism and become active participants in strengthening our land and our heritage.