These are my appointed festivals: On the final Monday of the fifth month, you are to celebrate a day of memorial; on the fourth Thursday of the eleventh month, you are to mark a sacred day of thanks; most importantly, on fifteenth day of the fourth month, you are to observe my tax day, for all generations—you are to proclaim these holidays as My sacred assemblies!
This isn’t a Biblical verse, but it could be, were God describing our U.S. national holidays.
When we Jews outside of the land of Israel hear the phrase “High Holy Days,” we think of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. However, there is another set of High Holy Days, holidays of utmost importance, almost universally observed in Israel. These days are Yom HaShoah, Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day (which fell last week); and Yom HaZikaron, Memorial Day…
We cannot hide behind our intentions, or rationalize them as being for the greater good. When we say, “Yes he’s upset, but he needed to hear it,” or “Yes she’s upset, but I needed to say it,” or “It’s not my fault they took it the wrong way,” we are lying to ourselves and putting or needs before the consequences of our actions on others. Our ego can convince us that those that we have hurt somehow deserved it, are overreacting, or are misinterpreting.
If the Passover Haggadah were to be distilled to a single sentence it would be “In every generation, it is an obligation for every person (notice that it does not say “Jew”) to see him or herself as though he or she made the Exodus from Egypt.” The Passover Haggadah does tell not a history lesson; it tells a memory lesson, because memory begins when history becomes personal. Passover is so core to the Jewish experience that we recall the Exodus from Egypt whenever we drink wine and recite Kiddush on any other holiday.