By Rabbi Steven G. Sager
In each and every generation a person is obliged to see himself as if he has gone out from Egypt. (Passover Haggadah)
Each person must bring an as if to the Pesah Seder. The as if that I bring allows me to enter a story that enters me; I see myself through my own eyes and through the ancient images. I am my story’s keeper and it is mine.
The Israeli poet, Yehuda Amichai tells himself into the ancient story this way:
And what is the continuum of my life. I am like one who left Egypt
with the Reed Sea split in two and I passing through on dry ground
with two walls of water on my right and on my left.
Behind me Pharaoh’s force and his chariots and before me the wilderness
and perhaps the promised land. This is the continuum of my life.
The poet is in the middle of an ancient story that is also in the middle of him. Side to side, he is in the middle of walls of water. Back to front, he is between pursuit and (perhaps) promise. Even his story within the ancient story is in the middle, poetically set between the continuum of my life and the continuum of my life. Meshekh, the word for continuum, also means continuity, duration; meshekh is the pull of something.
B’meshekh means, in the middle. From the perspective of the middle, both the beginning and the end are beyond the horizon.
The ancient story has a certain ending—Israel reaches its promised land. Yet, the poet brings his perhaps, his uncertainty, to the relived story, enriching the ancient tale with live emotion. Perhaps, brings personal doubt and present uncertainty to an ancient tale. I imagine that I and my ancestors shared not only a story, put a perhaps. Together, joined across generations, we have always wondered about how the story that we tell will live itself from the past to the future.
In each and every generation we wonder anew how the story that we carry will help to carry us.