“The Telling: How Judaism’s Essential Book Reveals the Meaning of Life” by Mark Gerson— A New Look at Passover

Gerson, Mark. “The Telling: How Judaism’s Essential Book Reveals the Meaning of Life”, St. Martin’s, 2021.

A New Look at Passover

Amos Lassen

Passover is the holiday that most of us love and remember. It is an experience that brings family and friends together and it is more than just the Seder, the Haggadah and matzoh. Mark Gerson shows us just what that is in “The Telling: How Judaism’s Essential Book Reveals the Meaning of Life”.

That extra something can hold the secrets to living the life of joy and meaning that we were intended to do. We seehere “how to make the Seder the most engaging, inspiring, and important night of the Jewish year.” He shows us how to lead the Seder with wisdom, confidence and fun making it a truly enjoyable experience by making the Haggadah come alive by giving us insights for our opportunities, questions and challenges. He explains how to show Gentile friends the richness of the Jewish tradition and instills a love for Judaism in our youth while bringing the family closer to each other and to God.
We see the Haggadah as the “greatest hits of Jewish thought”.

By understanding this we become enabled to give our families and guests an entertaining and helpful Seder filled with  teachings and lessons that will continue throughout the year  and our lives. We ask questions at the Seder and the answers that Gerson gives us
define what constitutes a meaningful life. He shows how the Haggadah makes it easier for readers to look at and use ancient Jewish wisdom to help answer contemporary questions. His answers are filled with passion and knowledge allowing us to see why the Haggadah has lasted through time and has remained relevant. As I read “The Telling”, I soon began to think differently about the Haggadah and what it has traditionally said to me. As Gerson explores the meaning behind the Seder and the Haggadah, he brings new relevance to what it says. He looks at the wealth of the Exodus story from the ten plagues to the first Passover while sharing many traditions, stories and principles that we celebrate at Passover.

Gerson shows how the Seder and the Haggadah have evolved over thousands of years as a way of bringing together the core lessons of Judaism for each generation to pass on to the next. It is not necessary to “believe” in order to find the relevance here. We learn so much more that the customs of Passover and see the themes of

loving the stranger, the sources of antisemitism, the secret to happiness and goodness, how to become a better person, and when bad things happen to good people giving us new insights on Judaism and life.

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