My grandpa had several jokes that he liked to tell. Over and over again. The title reflects one of them (and still makes me giggle, as I did each time he told it). It’s only years after hearing them the first dozen or so times that I’m able to appreciate the gift of the memory that those jokes have given. Even if we all groaned at some of them, they make me smile, and because they were told by him, they have gained far more meaning than they had the first time I heard them.
And so it is with things we hear again and again. Or read again and again. Or see again and again. Partly because we have changed, partly because we’ve added the memories of hearing them to the tales themselves, partly because we are able to notice something new in the details (the story itself being so familiar)…it becomes a whole new experience. One which creates a new story out of a familiar one.
And that’s how it is with Pesach. Each year, we tell and retell the story of the exodus–we repeat the words and the actions that we’ve done dozens of times before. And we get something new out of it. Every time.
At least we can. That’s the challenge of leading a seder and making it make sense for that particular moment in time. Making it as new as it is ancient. Making a new story out of the old. As we tell and retell the stories of our tradition, and the stories of seders past, and the stories that are continually being written throughout our lives.