Tikkun Passover 2009 Supplement in Plain Text

Some folks have had problems with the font size on the 2009 Passover Supplement.  The original is from http://www.tikkun.org/article.php/seder_2009.  Below is a version converted to plain text with acroread and then reformatted in emacs.  Use it if you find it useful. — Greg Priest-Dorman 2009/04/06 09:53

A Passover Seder

Haggadah Supplement

For Ethically Sensitive Jews and our non-Jewish allies.

(You don’t have to be Jewish to create or attend a Seder—or to adopt
the approach to spiritual reality embodied in this text).

by Rabbi Michael Lerner, Editor, Tikkun Magazine and Rabbi, Beyt
Tikkun Synagogue (which meets in both S.F. and Berkeley. More info:

This text is not meant to be a replacement for but a supplement to the
traditional Haggadah. Feel free to make copies of this to use at any
seder you attend, or to transform this in ways that work best for you!


Seventy-eight percent of American Jews voted for Barack Obama in 2008,
and a majority of non-Jewish Americans joined them. The message was
clear: • end the war in Iraq and let our troops come home • end the
war on the poor and the environment • stop favoring the rich and
corporate interests.

Our Seder celebrates the first liberation struggle of our people,
overcoming slavery and proclaiming to the world that the “way things
are” is not the only way things can be. In the face of oppression, we
proclaimed to the Pharoah’s empire that there is a God (YHVH) who is
the Force of Healing and Transformation in the world—the force that
makes possible the transformation from “what is” to “what ought to

At our Seder tonight we celebrate the steps we’ve taken toward
liberation. We look at where we are as a people and as human beings in
our struggle to build a world of freedom and peace for all.

We rejoice together at the election of an African American as

But we are concerned about the outcome of the global meltdown of our
economic and political system. We are now experiencing the results of
decades of materialism and selfishness. Too many Americans closed
their eyes to the suffering of those who have been living in poverty,
even in the midst of American affluence. Now the suffering is
spreading to the rest of us.

The American economic system can create prosperity, but also
cultivates greed, fraud, and a selfish “looking-outfor- number-one”
mentality. This offends Jewish values, and has hurt our souls—even if
we ignored these spiritual and psychic costs while the system was
providing material goodies for many of us.

The media, corporations, and their friends in government urged us to
translate our spiritual and intimacy needs into consumption. This
worked for some but produced alienation, loneliness, widespread
emotional depression and a huge global anger at our society from
others around the world. With individualism tearing down communities
and teaching the ethos of “looking out for number one,” some people
even turned to various religious fundamentalisms as a way to resist
the global ethos of capitalism. These fundamentalisms cannot be
defeated by our insistence on the value of democracy and human
rights—not unless we simultaneously recognize and address what has
been appealing in these old-time religions: their insistence that
there is a hunger for meaning and purpose in life that cannot be
achieved by material accumulation or endless new technologies, and
that people hunger for loving community and connection to the mystery
and majesty of the universe as much as for money or power or sexual

We do not want a return to the economic arrangements of the past few
decades. The false equation of “progress” with the accumulation of
material goods and endless new technologies produced a global
environmental crisis as an orgy of consumption destroyed much of the
life support system of the planet. Only a fundamental transformation
of the ethical and spiritual foundation of our economic and political
order can save humanity and the planet in the 21st century. Developing
this new vision is the task for spiritual progressives from every
religious background.

Many progressive Jews are finding the ethical and spiritual foundation
for this transformation in the Jewish tradition. Jewish values support
generosity, caring for others, and loving the stranger, while
rejecting the extreme individualism, alienation and loneliness that
accompanies the dominant ethos of American society.

At our Seder tonight we challenge Western societies to adopt specific
economic programs that flow from these Jewish values: • A National
Bank that gives loans without charging interest • A legal system based
on the “obligation to care” for each other, not just look out for
“number one” • An economy that prescribes a sabbatical year for
everyone (the same year—the whole society taking off one year to not
produce, but instead to focus on what we as a human race want to
accomplish in the next six years) • A Global Marshall Plan as an
extension of the Torah’s notion of a tithe • Single payer universal
health care • Unrestricted immigration • Protection of workers’
rights.  Unfortunately, we as Jews also have to face a rather
troubling reality. Within our own community these wonderful Jewish
ethical values have too often been ignored. Too many prominent Jews
have followed the narrow path of self interest.

Similarly, Israel, which describes itself as “the State of the Jewish
people,” has failed to embody the highest values of the Jewish
tradition in the way that it treats our brothers and sisters the
Palestinians. The human rights violations and the slaughter of
Palestinians in Gaza, the seizing of Arab lands, the imprisonment of
thousands of Palestinians without trial and the revelations by Israeli
soldiers themselves of acts of brutality in Gaza and the West Bank are
not isolated incidents. They are not the product of evil
soldiers. They are the inevitable consequence of imposing and
enforcing occupation.  We are not Jews who reject Israel or think it
is the worst human rights violator on the planet! The U.S. role in
Iraq, the genocide in Darfur, the repression of Buddhism in Tibet, and
the extremes of repression in Iran and several Arab states are moral
outrages of equal or greater proportion. Nor do we excuse the human
rights violations and terrorism perpetrated by Hamas. Every act of
violence against civilians must be vehemently opposed.  Tonight at our
Seder table, and again on the High Holidays, we affirm that our
special responsibility as Jews is to look critically at our own
individual and communal behavior. It would be hypocritical to
celebrate the freedom achieved from slavery while ignoring the ways
that we as Americans and/or as Jews and/or as supporters of the state
of Israel have been acting as Pharaoh to the Palestinian people.  We
must not let our long history as victims of oppression or our anger at
God for not having saved us from the Holocaust become the foundation
for adopting the religion of our enemies: the religion that says that
we can only trust in our power, our army, our ability to wipe out our
enemies. This false God, parading under the title of “being
realistic,” stands in stark contrast to the traditional voice of
Jewish compassion, generosity, and caring for others.  The whole point
of surviving as Jews is to challenge that religion of violence and
domination and affirm instead the possibility of a world ruled by the
logic of love and generosity. When we were utterly degraded as slaves,
we experienced God as the power that was there redeeming us into
freedom and sacred service. Now it is we who are powerful, and when
our Jewish community aligns with the use of power in heartless and
cruel ways against another people we feel deep grief. Our Torah says:
“When you come into your land, do not oppress the stranger. Remember
that you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” The Torah commands us
positively: “Thou shalt love the stranger.”

We must use our Seder to begin a conversation about how to create a
broad social movement for peace, justice, and ecological
sanity. President Obama needs to hear from those who are not trapped
in the “inside-the-beltway” logic that dominates the national media
and our national political leadership. If we do not make fundamental
changes in our economic system and in our approach to foreign policy,
we may find ourselves in deeper despair this time next year.

Tonight at our Seder we will tell heroic stories of the past, but we
must never imagine our past suffering gives us a moral pass to ignore
the ethical distortions of the present moment. Our Seder must help us
plan a way to transform the present. But we must do so with a strong
dose of compassion, both for our own people and for the Palestinian
people. We have co-created the current mess. We have both suffered
from so much post-traumatic stress that sometimes people on both sides
of this struggle fail to recognize the humanity of the other.

As Jews, we must challenge our own people’s distorted vision and blend
that challenge with deep love and caring, not just chastisements.

Americans of every faith can make a huge contribution to this process
by challenging the dominant vision in the West about how to achieve
“homeland security”—namely through domination and power over
others. Our Torah, and almost every other major religious and
spiritual tradition, teaches a different message: that security can
best be achieved through generosity, caring for others, and love. This
revolutionary message must be given teeth, which is why we at Tikkun
Magazine and Beyt Tikkun Synagogue in the Bay Area have formed the
interfaith Network of Spiritual Progressives and launched a campaign
for a Global Marshall Plan that would have the U.S. and other advanced
industrial societies dedicate between 2–5% of our Gross Domestic
Product each year for the next twenty to once and for all end global
poverty, homelessness, hunger, inadequate education, and inadequate
health care, and to repair the global environment (details on this
plan and on how to join us are at
www.spiritualprogressives.org). Rather than attempt to rebuild an
economic system that has been destroying the environment and
encouraging an ethos of selfishness, our goal as spiritual
progressives is to build a new global economy based on ancient
spiritual values of love, kindness, generosity and caring equally for
the well-being of everyone on the planet. That this kind of miracle
can happen, that what everybody thought was impossible can suddenly
become possible, because there is a power in the universe that is the
power of love and transformation, this is what we experienced in Egypt
and what we are seeking to enliven within ourselves by creating this
Seder. We see that beyond the self, beyond family and country, we are
part of the unfolding and evolution of consciousness in the universe,
and we celebrate and recommit ourselves to that Force of Healing and

So let’s now close our eyes. Can you see the universe and your place
in it? Affirm now your role as partner with God in the healing and
transformation of all that is. The Seder can also be a time to do
“tikkun” (to heal and transform parts of ourselves and our society).


We are gathered here tonight to affirm our continuity with the
generations of Jews who kept alive the vision of freedom in the
Passover story. For thousands of years, Jews (and our non-Jewish
allies) have affirmed this vision by participating in the Passover
Seder. We not only remember the Exodus but actually relive it,
bringing its transformative power into our own lives.

The Hebrew word for Egypt, mitzrayim, means “narrow straits.”
Traditionally, mitzrayim has been understood to mean a spiritual
state, the “narrow place” of confusion, fragmentation, and spiritual
disconnection. Liberation requires us to embrace that which we have
been taught to scorn within ourselves and others, including the
split-off parts from our own consciousness that we find intolerable
and that we project onto some “evil Other.” The Seder can also be a
time to reflect on those parts of ourselves.

Israel, according to the Torah, left Egypt with “a mixed multitude.”
The Jewish people began as a multicultural mélange of people attracted
to a vision of social transformation. What makes us Jews is not some
biological fact, but our willingness to proclaim the message of those
ancient slaves: (Say Together) The world can be changed, we can be

Blessing over the first cup of wine.


The saltwater on our table traditionally represents the tears of the
Israelite slaves. The green vegetables we dip in the water suggest the
possibility of growth and renewal even in the midst of grief.

The greens on the table also remind us of our commitment to protect
the planet from ecological destruction.  Instead of focusing narrowly
on what we may “realistically” accomplish in today’s world, we must
refocus the conversation on what the planet needs in order to survive
and flourish. We must get out of the narrow place in our thinking and
look at the world not as a resource, but as a focus for awe, wonder,
and amazement. We must reject the societal story that identifies
success and progress with endless growth and accumulation of
things. Instead we will focus on acknowledging that we already have
enough; we need to stop exploiting our resources and instead care for
the earth.

Dip the greens in saltwater and say your own personal blessings for
the earth.


Discuss as a group or in pairs at the Seder table:

1. Egypt, mitzrayim in Hebrew, comes from the word tzar: the “narrow
place,” the constricted place. In what way are you personally still
constricted? Are you able to see yourself as part of the unity of all
being, a manifestation of God’s love on earth? Are you able to
overcome the ego issues that separate us from each other? Can you see
the big picture, or do you get so caught in the narrow places and
limited struggles of your own life that it’s hard to see beyond your
personal struggles? What concrete steps could you take to change that?
2. Do you believe that we can eventually eradicate wars, poverty, and
starvation? Or do you believe that no one really cares about anyone
but themselves, and that we will always be stuck in some version of
the current mess? Or do you think that such a belief is itself part of
what keeps us in this mess? If so, how would you suggest we spread a
more hopeful message and deal with the cynicism and self-doubt that
always accompanies us when we start talking about changing the world?
3. What experiences have you had that give you hope? Tell about some
struggle to change something—a struggle that you personally were
involved in—that worked. What did you learn from that?  4. When the
Israelites approached the Sea of Reeds, the waters did not split. It
took a few brave souls to jump into the water. Even then, the waters
rose up to their very noses, and only then, when these brave souls
showed that they really believed in the Force of Healing and
Transformation (YHVH), did the waters split and the Israelites walk
through them. Would you be willing to jump into those waters today—for
example by becoming an advocate for nonviolence or for the strategy of
generosity and the Global Marshall Plan? Would you go to speak about
this to your elected representatives? To your neighbors? To your
coworkers? To your family?  MAGEED (TELL THE STORY):

Tell the story of the Exodus, and identify the Pharaohs in your life

Blessing over the second cup of wine.

We are descended from slaves who staged the first successful slave
rebellion in recorded history. Ever since, our people has kept alive
the story of liberation, and the consciousness that cruelty and
oppression are not inevitable “facts of life,” but conditions that can
be changed. Because God makes possible the tikkun (healing and
transformation) of the world, reality is enough. Dayenu—it is enough.


PESACH (the Bone or for vegetarians, the Pascal Beet): Our Seder plate
includes a symbol of the ancient Passover sacrifice, which was brought
each year to the Temple in Jerusalem. The Hebrew word for sacrifice is
korban, which comes from the root meaning “near” or “close.” What
could bring you closer to your highest spiritual self?

MATZAH: The Torah tells us that the Israelites had to take the
uncooked dough with them, “For they had prepared no provisions for the
way.” Symbolically, the matzah reminds us that when the opportunity
for liberation comes, we must seize it, even if we do not feel fully
prepared-indeed, if we wait until we feel prepared, we may never act
at all.  If you had to jump into such a struggle tomorrow morning,
what would you have to leave behind? The current global economic
meltdown may be precisely such a moment. Are you ready to leave the
slavery of our current economic system?

The matzah also stands in contrast to chametz (Hebrew for the
expansive yeast that makes bread rise), which symbolizes false pride,
absorption in our individual egos, and grandiosity.

MARROR (the Bitter Herbs): The suffering of the Jews in Egypt has been
matched by thousands of years in which we were oppressed as a
people. Our insistence on telling the story of liberation and
proclaiming that the world could be and should be fundamentally
different has angered ruling elites. These elites often tried to
channel against the Jews the anger that ordinary people were feeling
about the oppression in their own lives. But Jews are not the only
ones to have suffered oppression and violence. We think of the
genocide against native peoples all around the world, including in the
United States. We think of the enslavement of Africans, and the
oppression of Armenians, homosexuals, women, immigrants and many
others. Yet, tonight it is appropriate for us to focus also on the
suffering of the Jewish people, and to affirm our solidarity with
victims of anti-Semitism through the ages. Anti-Semitism still
persists in our own time in the use of double standards in the
judgment of Jews, in acts of violence against Jews, and in refusing to
acknowledge the history of Jewish suffering as equal to the suffering
of other victims of oppressive social regimes in Christian, Muslim,
and some secular societies, as well. Meanwhile, we Jews need to
acknowledge the ways that such suffering has at times distorted our
consciousness and made it hard to fully grasp the pain others feel. We
must evolve A GLOBAL JUDAISM that compassionately embraces the Jewish
people and all other peoples.


The Haggadah says, “Let all who are hungry come and eat.”
Traditionally, this is understood to mean not only literally feeding
the hungry, but also offering spiritual sustenance to those in
need. Both must go hand in hand. We live in a society of unprecedented
wealth, yet we turn our backs on the hungry. Even the supposedly
liberal and progressive political leaders are unwilling to champion
any program to seriously address world hunger and homelessness.

There is also a deep spiritual hunger that must be fed. Though the
cynical proclaim that “those who accumulate the most toys win,” our
tradition teaches that money, power, and fame cannot sustain us. Our
spiritual tradition teaches us to be present to each moment; to
rejoice in all that we are and all that we have been given; to
experience the world with awe, wonder, and radical amazement; and to
recognize that we already have enough and are enough.

Not just during the Seder, but also at every meal, it is incumbent
upon us—the Jewish tradition teaches—to talk words of Torah, to study
some section of our holy books, or to in other ways make God feel
present at our table. Try this every night as you eat: bring God and
God’s message of love, generosity, peace, social justice, ecological
sanity, and caring for others into every meal that you eat.

Enjoy the meal. Following the meal, say a blessing expressing thanks
to God for the food and by expressing a commitment to do what you can
to redistribute food on this planet so that everyone will have
enough. Drink the third cup of wine.


We open the door for Elijah—the prophet who heralds the coming of the
Messiah and a world in which all peoples will coexist
peacefully—acknowledging the Image of God in one another. To deny the
possibility of fundamental transformation, to be stuck in the pain of
past oppression, or to build our religion around memories of the
Holocaust and other forms of suffering is to give the ultimate victory
to those who oppressed us. To testify to God’s presence in the world
is to insist on shifting our focus from pain to hope, and to dedicate
our energies to transforming this world and ourselves. (All together
recite): We still believe in a world based on love, generosity, and
openheartedness.  We continue to affirm the Unity of All Being.

Now let us build together a communal vision of what messianic
redemption would look like.

Close your eyes and let some picture of this appear in your
minds. Then, open your eyes and share with others

your picture of the world we want to build together.

Blessing over the fourth cup of wine.

Sing songs of liberation!

Want to be part of a Judaism that shares the values articulated in
this Haggadah supplement? You can:

1. JOIN Beyt Tikkun Synagogue. Come to our annual retreat and/or High
Holiday services. There may even be a few remaining seats at our (2nd
night) Passover Seder April 9 at the Noe Valley Ministry in S.F. if
you join as members. Details at www.BeytTikkun.org. 415-575-1432
2. Come to our course, GLOBAL JUDAISM: A re-introduction to a Judaism
of Love and Generosity.  Taught by Rabbi Michael Lerner. Fri. evening
May 1 to Sun. afternoon May 3. Details at www.beyttikkun.org
3. Subscribe to Tikkun Magazine at www.tikkun.org If you are not
Jewish but wish to bring these values into your Christian, Muslim,
Buddhist, or other spiritual communities, or if you are a (spiritual
but not religious) atheist please join our interfaith Network of
Spiritual Progressives at www.spiritualprogressives.org

q YES! I’ll help you spread this message. I’ll send a tax deductible
donation of

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or I’ll enclose my credit card info and you can bill it for
$____________one time; or $____________each

month for one year. Or, I’ll call your office at 510-644-1200 to
donate that way.

Tikkun & Beyt Tikkun Synagogue

2342 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704 510-644-1200 Shul@tikkun.org
1021 Sanchez, San Francisco, CA 94114 415-575-1432