Passover and Community, as we emerge from lockdown
Millennia before John Donne penned his famous meditation: ‘’No man is an island entire of itself; every man, is a piece of the continent, a part of the main’’, Judaism as a faith focussed on a ‘spirituality which for the most part is profoundly communal’, just as Aristotle said that ‘’man is by nature a social animal’.
Genesis focuses on the family, in Exodus and much of the rest of the Bible the focus is the community. Israel is after all called on to be ‘’A priestly kingdom and a holy community’’ (Exodus 19.6).
Of course the individual is held in high regard – we are all created in the image of God – but it is overwhelmingly through shared family or community experience that Judaism finds its expression. The main thrust of Jewish tradition is one in which family and community play a central role in spiritual life. We pray, mourn, celebrate and even confess together.
At Passover, we remember that left Egypt as a community, we recall God’s miracles including the splitting of the sea as a community, we experienced Sinai as a community, we entered the land and built the Temple as a community. We are also obligated to one another through the system of religious commandments, which means not rights but responsibilities.
Judaism time and again reminds us that God is found in community and our vocation is indeed to be a holy community. It is through alleviating loneliness and coming together through meaningful shared experiences that we may encounter the Divine. On Passover as we come together as families and communities to mark our founding story and share our hopes for collective redemption, we begin to repair our lonely world.
Philip Goldenberg, member of the Jewish faith
Date: Monday 5th April 2021