For the past several years, I have been reading the Passover story directly from Exodus with my third grade class. The emotional response that I get from each class is a compelling reason to do it. As they wrestle with the text, they experience frustration, joy, sadness, but also they become angry with G-d. When G-d hardens Pharao's heart, I sometimes hear an outburst. This year's was typical, "Why did He DO that?!" A student shouted, "Maybe Pharao would've said yes!"
After we read Exodus, we discuss the practices of the Seder and the symbols on the Seder Plate. The ideas of my students are inspirational. Several times I have heard it said that the salt water on the table represents tears of joy that the Israelites shed upon realizing they were free--an idea that never occurred to me. This year, one student suggested that the salt water represents the sweat of hard labor. Always they understand, after hearing the original text, that our freedom did not come easily. There were many tears shed in Egypt when G-d showed us G-d's power.
Every year I learn, and every year I want the conversation to continue. And so I bring it to you, my friends and family, to continue it here.
"Seder" means order, and so we will complete all fifteen elements of the Seder here tonight--some in more depth than others. I invite the children among us to ask questions, which is one of the elements, and I invite the adults among us to be open to hearing new answers to the questions we have heard so many times.