“The tiniest little particle of chometz nullifies everything and makes it non-kosher, only on Passover,’’ he said.
This, too, applies to people.
“Make yourself observant. Observance is belief ...When you practice belief, you have this magic ingredient so you know how to live right and how to help your friends live right, so your life is not wasteful.’’
At its core, he said, the holiday teaches gratitude, “and if you’re grateful, you have to be happy. The only reason why you’re happy is that you did something right. By coming to the Passover Seder, you did something right.”
Yet for all its rules, Passover is a uniquely adaptable holiday, open to a vast range of interpretation and practice.
Thousands of versions of the Haggadah reflect the mainstream branches of Judaism as well as myriad variations tailored to special needs and interests: interfaith, feminist, gay, Zen, Zionist, eco-conscious, musical and more.
“If you look back over history, depending on the rabbi and community, you have different traditions,’’ said Rabbi Andrew Jacobs of Plantation’s Ramat Shalom, a progressive congregation that melds the Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist traditions.
“I have congregants who create their own Haggadahs over the years,’’ he said.
The Haggadah poses questions that will spur discussion, and through discussion, creativity, said Jacobs, 42.
“Ultimately, the Haggadah is designed to tell children the story in a way that’s relevant and fun, because if it isn’t, they won’t learn it.’’
So there are catchy songs, riddles and rewards. Some families even use props.
“For years we threw [toy] frogs,’’ one of the 10 plagues that God visited on the Egyptians to encourage them to let the Israelites go, Jacobs explained.
For adults, discussion around the Seder table should lead to a deeper understanding of what freedom means.
“Often times we focus so much on the surface, making it out of Egypt, but in one way or another, all of us are slaves to something: a challenge, an addiction, feeling sad about stuff that doesn’t matter,’’ Jacobs said.
“Passover is an opportunity to let go of the darkness, to make it across the parted sea, and an exodus from anything we want to leave behind.’’