Many years ago, Choni Hameagel (Choni who draws circles) was walking along and saw an old man planting a Carob tree. He asked, why are you plating a tree which you will never be able to enjoy (it grows too slowly)? The man replied that while it was true that he would derive no benefit from the tree, his children and grandchildren would. Satisfied with the answer, Choni went to sleep. When he woke, he saw a young man harvesting fruit from a carob tree. When he asked the man if he knew who had planted the tree, he said it was his grandfather. Choni had been asleep for seventy years! As Choni wandered the world, the Talmud tells us he was bewildered. Everything seemed similar but new. The man looked just like his grandfather but was different. People dressed a little differently and spoke a little differently. It felt like a brave new world. Before the Jews even left Egypt, as they prepared the first Pesach sacrifice, they knew that they would be doing this every year. Hashem had already told them they would be doing this on the event's anniversary year after year. And yet, they needed to be explicitly told the year afterwards to bring the sacrifice. Why didn't they think about this? Why didn't they know that they would have to bring this sacrifice? As the Jews left Egypt, their entire world changed. They entered a new type of existence, a free one, where they could choose what they were doing and when they were doing it. With life so different, it's small wonder that they didn't necessarily connect what they had done before with what they needed to do now. Their lives were a constant exercise of noticing the new. This remains just as true today. Pesach is a festival of tradition and routine. Each year we make the same foods, sit down for a meal at around the same time, and say the same words. Many of us even invite the same people year after year. And yet, things do change. We're a year older and wiser. Our families might look different. We can have new friends. And even if it all is the same, the words mean other things in a new year. Let's take the opportunity this Pesach presents to bring that element of newness and excitement to our celebration. And let's also celebrate the wonder of living the extraordinary, free lives we are privileged to have.
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