Why A Men's Seder?
Adolescence is not an easy time for anyone; try going through those hormonal changes while being a biblical legend. Joseph was a complicated teenager, to say the least. From early in his childhood, his father had great ambitions for him. So did God. Joseph himself, believed that he was destined for greatness. And he was not shy about sharing his dreams of grandeur, his vision of power and influence, his inflated sense of self-importance. He made sure everyone he knew was aware of his healthy self-image, even at the risk of offending those he loved and cherished. And offend he did. So much so, that the relations between Joseph and his siblings were strained to the breaking point.
And yet, sometime later Joseph was at home and his brothers were out tending sheep. In spite of the tension between them, in spite of the apparent unwillingness of the brothers to allow Joseph to be with them, still, Joseph went out to look for his brothers (Genesis 37: 14). There was something within Joseph that could not allow himself to be isolated from other men, even if the relationship was damaged, even if his brothers thought they hated him. There was something Joseph needed more than anything else: the company of other men.
Every contemporary man understands Joseph's need to go out to look for his brothers. There are certain experiences that only men can share. There are specific expectations that only men have. There are certain challenges that only men face. And there are certain things that can only be understood by men. Men need the company of men, to be men. Where does a contemporary, man go to find male bonding?
Where does a man go to find a relationship with other men that is not competitive, that is not comparative, that is not threatening and dehumanizing? Some might find it in the all-male world of the yeshiva, but few of us feel, for a multiplicity of reasons, that the yeshiva is our place. Others find it in the military, but truth is, most men do not enlist in the service. Still others find it along the third base line, or at mid-court, but men's issues run much deeper than sports. We believe this is the arena and the mandate of religion, 'to provide an environment where each and every one of us feels safe, accepted, loved and not judged.
We believe that religion is where a man can go and not be evaluated for his material possessions, or his notoriety, or his romantic conquests, or the power of his biceps. We believe that traditionally, religion was the place where ultimate questions were asked and answered. And we believe that the experience of a male Seder offers the tools to achieve what men need.'
The Passover Seder, directed by the words of the Haggadah, has always been a night of questions and answers, of challenges and struggles, of eating and singing and laughing and bonding. It is the ideal structure for exploring those issues which pertain specifically to men, to be discussed by men, to be wrestled with by men, to be shared by men. Resolution of these issues does not take place in isolation. Like Joseph before us, we need to go out and look for our brothers, brothers who give us the space to express our deepest feelings, brothers who feel free enough to share their feelings with us.
This is the goal of the MRJ Men's Haggadah. We offer this text as a springboard for open and honest reflection and sharing. The power of a shared male experience is now in your hands.