All Who Are Hungry

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2013-03-25 – “Let all who are hungry come and eat.” Thus begins the Passover Seder, which is happening this evening in Jewish homes around the world.

The invitation is part of the introductory passage from the liturgy, which begins “This is the bread of afflictions that our ancestors ate in the Land of Egypt.” Thus the invitation to the hungry comes from the memory of a time when we were needy.

What goes around comes around.

Most Jews in America don’t experience need, so it is tempting to see the obligation to feed the hungry as an obligation without a quid pro quo. We have and we are generous. But this opening paragraph says no. This is not a one-way transaction. We give today because we received yesterday. It recognizes that everyone has ups and downs that can be smoothed out by a sense of mutual obligation.

Jews were not always as privileged as they (mostly) are in America. They read this passage at their meager Seders in all the bad years. And though they were not well off, they invited the hungry to come and eat.

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