Ke-ilu (as if)
“Bechol dor va dor hayav adam lirot Et Atzmo Ke-ilu hu yataza mi mitzrayim”
In every generation one is obligated to see oneself as if they personally went out from Egypt.
There are many instances when the participants in the Passover seder are implored to enact aspects of the Passover narrative “ke ilu” (as if) they themselves were part of the original exodus from Egypt.
Leaning in ones chair while drinking the four cups of wine as a sign of freedom.
Eating various foods such as bitter herbs and charoset to represent the Passover story
Spilling of wine a drop of after declaring each of the ten plagues, to remind us that although they brought us freedom they also brought terror to the Egyptians.
These are but a few of the many examples that bring our whole person closer to the Passover story. In doing so the Passover seder is often held up as a classic example of experiential Jewish education – a form of education that emphasizes learning from personal experience rather than the experience of teachers. As Aristotle said, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them." In essence however although we may learn from the seder it lacks a full integration of own experiences.
Actually, as a stand-alone the haggadah text is actually not very experiential – in fact it is fairly didactic in nature – it tells a story, directs the players, and above all else we know how the story turns out. The true experiential learning that can takes place during the seder depends on you.
For real experiential learning to take place, John Dewey and other proponents of experiential education require a combination of experience, reflection and review to occur in order for transformative learning to take place. I am not suggesting that the beauty of the seder be infringed upon – but I am proposing that with a few additions your seder can be both a beautiful ritual shared with family and friends, and a major learning experience for all.
So, what can you do during your seder to make each person “feel” as if they were leaving Egypt? What questions can you ask that will challenge people to consider how they might have reacted in certain circumstances?When reading about the Bread of affliction consider who that is “hungry” or “in need” are you inviting to this year’s seder? When spilling 10 drops of wine from your glass, which of the 21st century plagues do you want to help try to eradicate? And ask yourself were all 10 plagues needed? Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? While reading the magid section of the haggadah ask which character in the Exodus narrative to you most admire? Who would you have acted similarly to, and where might you have acted differently? Or when reading about the 4 sons, take on one of their personas and consider , what questions you would you ask?