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The God Squad: Celebrate springtime, however you wish

March 22, 2013|By Rabbi Marc Gellman

Thank you, dear readers, for your many kind comments on my column welcoming Pope Francis to the world of healing and hope. I'm truly excited to see his first humble and gracious acts, and I hope they presage a time of new beginnings and old continuities for the Catholic Church. I was particularly pleased to learn that one of the things he did was write a warm and welcoming letter to the rabbi of Rome pledging his commitment to continue the work of improving Catholic-Jewish relations. May Pope Francis go from strength to strength and from love to love.

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Every year, as Passover and Easter approach, it's my custom, honor and joy to wish Passover and Easter blessings to all my Jewish and Christian readers. This year, I'm including three very different blessings about the same holidays. One is for all my readers who celebrate Passover, one is for those who observe Easter, and another is for people who don't celebrate Passover or Easter ... yet.

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For those who celebrate Passover:

May your souls leave Egypt this year with your ancestors. Egypt is not just a place; it is a state of mind. The word Egypt in Hebrew, mitzraim, has as its root meaning, meitzar, the name of a narrow passage between two cliffs. It's a place of constriction, vulnerability and fear.

So when you come to the part of the Passover seder where we read the biblical commandment to see yourself as having left Egypt, even in future generations, I pray that you might visualize "Egypt" as the narrow place(s) you're going through right now in your life. Egypt is everything that's keeping you from doing your best, choosing the good and serving others. Egypt is the place where you've forgotten your best self.

God wants you to leave that place as you read the account of your ancestors leaving the real Egypt 3,000 years ago. I do not pray that your journey will be easy. Freedom is purchased dearly, but I do pray that you have the courage and love to complete the journey to your own promised land. That is the promise and the meaning of the Exodus and the holiday of Passover that is about to arrive and unfold again.

For those who celebrate Easter:

May you have the courage to see the crucifix and the joy to see the empty cross. I've always been moved by the different truths that Catholics and Protestants see in the world's most important symbol — the cross.

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