illustration by Avi Katz
“This night is no different from other nights,” says Pharaoh, “True, on previous nights I have had a son, and on this night I do not. But this is not relevant to what I must do now.”
“This time sounds different from other times,” says Mozart, “for in previous times I did not have a son, and now I do.”
What time is it? I write this two days before the Seder night. It will reach its readers a few days before Memorial Day for Israel’s fallen soldiers.
It is not a good time, I tell the friend who sits down next to me on the row of chairs outside the sanctuary. I have a glossed Haggadah open on my lap. I am trying to prepare for this year’s Seder, to think of how to retell, once more, the Exodus from Egypt and the crossing of the sea. Pesach is next week and my son Niot, who was a soldier, will have been dead for a year. The earth has circled the sun a single time since the last Seder, which was the last night he was with us. We are cleaning and preparing once more to eat matzah and bitter herbs and tell again the story of how we came out of Egypt. Two and a half weeks later we will again remember the fallen soldiers. But this year is different, for there is a newly fallen soldier to remember, and he is my son.