We are often called the People of the Book as a result of our deep love and reverence for our sacred texts. More specifically, we are a people who cherish our story, which we often gather to retell.
Shabbat after Shabbat, through pomp and circumstance, we read from our sacred Torah. We begin in Beresheit with the creation of the world and the patriarchal and matriarchal family. We learn about Abraham and Sarah all the way until Jacob and his twelve sons. We read about our descent into Egypt and our ascent out of slavery, leading towards the ultimate redemption of receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai. There are moments of great glory for the Israelite people as well as tremendous lows. Each piece of the story is read until we get to the end of the Torah, and begin anew.
Our holidays provide yet another opportunity to retell our history, especially over these next two months. On Purim, we gather to read the Megillat Esther, The Scroll of Esther. We hear the story of the evil Haman and his plot to destroy the Jews. We learn how Mordechai and Queen Esther foil the plan, thus leading to our survival. The holiday is not complete without hearing the megillah read out loud.
A month after reading about Esther and Mordechai, we will once again gather to tell another story. Convening around a Seder Table, with the entire purpose of retelling our story from slavery to freedom. We will recall our slavery in Egypt and our ultimate freedom.
What is the reason for our compulsive need to retell our story, over and over again? Why do we spend so much time telling our story, and sharing not only the highs, but all of the details, with a focus on the moments of almost destruction?
There is a deep power that telling and knowing one’s story has on one’s feeling of being a part of something more than herself. Families are created and strengthened through stories; especially those stories that share the highs and the lows. A sense of familial bond is increased each time that story is told in its most real form.
Over the next two months, we will tell a lot of stories. It is more than just making noise when we say Haman’s name or taking wine out of our cup as we recall the plagues. It is the story that unites us and reminds us that we are a people . . . a people bound together one story at a time.
Wishing you and your family a Happy Pruim and a Zissin Pesach!