Jewish learning Achron shel Pesach | At the End of Passover | A Drash in Haiku

By Naomi Gurt Lind
Naomi Gurt Lind

Achron shel Pesach (Exodus 13:17-15:26)

After our seders
We come back to B’shallach
Yet we’re also changed

Bechol dor vador
Generations see ourselves
Leaving our narrows

All Jews forever
Each and every one of us
Lives this story out

Moses leads us forth
Stands up to his own demons
Also to Pharaoh

When we make our way
God sends us the long way round
Scared we might turn back

A pillar of cloud
Keeps us company in daylight
At night it is fire

We’re sort of a mess
Not sure what we’re heading towards
Hungry, tired, scared

Manna from heaven
Tastes like Grandma’s honey cake
God sees to our needs

An angel attends
Rashi says it’s but a judge
Keeping watchful eye:

Will the Israelites
Prevail despite obstacles?
Or will we be lost?

We come to the sea
Oppressors gaining on us
The water is wide

We cry out to God
Between two impossibles
We can only pray

Water is raging
Nachshon ben Aminadav
Takes the brave first step

Then God splits the sea
We tumble through in a rush
While oppressors drown

Two peoples, one sea
Ibn Ezra explains it
Two opposing winds

A wind from the east
Moves water out of our way
We are safe to cross

But another wind
Brings a wet and cruel fate
To our oppressors

Az yashir Moshe
Chants and dance and tambourines
We are free at last!

Our Exodus
Israelites—that’s you and me
Make our way toward home

Every single year
Even in a pandemic
We sing of freedom

Around the table
Wine cups, hope-songs, family
All seems possible

Seders full of joy
Next year in Jerusalem
Let my people go!

Now the Haggadah’s
Crumb-laden and stained with wine
The party’s over

Achron shel Pesach
The end of the holiday
Brings us back to earth

Life goes on, it seems
The split sea returns to tides
Was it all a dream?

Now the world feels rough
War and grief and pandemic
Can sea split again?

Many hearts are frayed
Softness that keeps us intact
Seems harder each day

Nations in conflict
Yemen, Ukraine, Syria
To name but a few

Prisons for profit
Inequality is rife
Families ruined

Planet in crisis
Islands drowning like Pharaoh
What can still be saved?

Bullets everywhere
School, subway, apartment
Nobody is safe

We’re all so estranged
Can’t cherish what we can’t see
Our minds are elsewhere

Sometimes I don’t know
How to hold the different threads
Only that I must

What about Pesach?
After seders, where are we?
What, then, have we learned?

Renewed commitment
Torah tells us not to quit
We rely on God

Hard times strengthen us
We lean on one another
Pressing on toward home

Freedom’s urgent call
Beckons us to keep going
The world needs this

Reach out for my hand
I’m as empty as you are
Let’s walk together

Naomi Gurt Lind is a Shanah Bet student at the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College, where she is an Innovation Lab grant recipient, a member of the inaugural cohort of Mayyim Rabbim fellows at Mayyim Hayyim Community Mikveh, and the newly-appointed editor of the 70 Faces of Torah blog. When she has a free moment, she enjoys solving crossword puzzles (in pencil!), writing divrei Torah on her blog, Jewish Themes, and playing Bananagrams with her spouse and their two genius children.

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