Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izbica, the Izhbitze Rebbe, who wrote the book, Mei HaShiloach, referred to the issue of asking questions on Passover. “Ma Nishtana” – is this question asked in order to receive an answer, to hear the story that took place, or is asking the question the actual goal, and not the means to an answer?
“The question that is about the banal and the ordinary – this is truly God’s revelation that arises in the heart of the one who asks the question, the revelation whose basis is in the question itself.”
Passover is an opportunity to ask, to ask the question that shows that I am not ready to simply accept the reality in which I live: Why do we behave like this? Why do we believe there is no hope for change? From where is this despair? How are we so sure? And so on.
The ability to question, to refuse to accept everything as a given but rather to lift one’s head and say: Maybe it doesn’t need to be this way. Perhaps there is something I never thought about before? Maybe I never saw all of the possibility before? That is the real wonder, the true revelation of Passover.
On Passover, we are required to ask in Hebrew Ma nishtana halila hazeh? What is different about this night? We ask not necessarily to know the answer, but in order question our reality. We exist, perhaps, not just to wonder about the world but rather to change both the world and ourselves: “study leads to action”. Passover is the holiday of change – change in the people from slaves without hope to believers in change and in freedom, and from there, to people who dare to cross the Red Sea, to receive the Torah and the land of Israel. We know that this is not a short or easy path and it all starts with the question: Do we need to continue to live this way? And hidden within this question is another one: Do we believe that we can change our reality?
This Passover, I hope that each of us will ask meaningful questions, about our people and our families, that we will look around us a bit differently and believe that we can make the changes we want to see happen.