Passover is quite possibly the most observed of all Jewish holidays. Jews with little affiliation to their faith find their way to a Seder table. Being with family members in an informal home setting, the tradition, four cups of wine, various customs and rituals, all make the Seder a positive experience for those in attendance. While the “four sons” differ from each other in their reaction to the Seder, they do have one thing in common – they are all present and accounted for. Even the “Wicked Son” is there – rebellious, disruptive, but nonetheless active and interested in being Jewish. We then hope that the wicked son will become wise and that all in attendance will become Torah observing Jews.
Today, however, we have another son: the fifth son, the son who is absent from the Seder service, the son who has no interest in attending, no interest in Torah, mitzvahs, laws and customs and may not even know about the Exodus from Egypt. This problem presents all Jews, especially parents, with a challenge to prepare before the Seder.
The responsibility is to ensure no Jew goes without a seat at a Seder. We should never give up on the fifth son. We should all make an effort to save our children and bring them to our Seder. The camaraderie found at a Seder is most meaningful. It is a place where Jews with varied observant backgrounds, experiences and interests are able to connect to one another and strive to develop and deepen their growth in Judaism. With this focus we are all sure to have a Seder that will last and enrich one’s life with more meaning and purpose.
Now how does the National Football League connect to the Passover Seder?
The number one question I get asked most often is what I miss most about playing in the NFL. Having played for two of the NFL’s premier franchises, the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, my response is always the same: I miss Tuesdays and Sundays. Tuesday is customarily payday and the standard day off around the league to finally get a chance to rest and heal your beaten body’s soreness, aches and pains. Also it’s nice getting paid for what you love to do. Sunday is “game day,” the energy, the intensity, the smell in the air and the fierce competition. Most players miss the games and, quite candidly, payday. But the number one thing ALL players miss is thecamaraderie. You just can’t get this outside of being on a team.
I remember reading an article in the NFL Alumni Yearbook entitled, “Where Are They Now?” a piece on Joe Klecko, the legendary defensive lineman from the New York Jets famous Sack Exchange defense. The article discussed that what he missed most from his days in the NFL is the camaraderie, having a group of guys all striving for a common goal, taking care of one another, watching each other’s back on and off the field and being there for each other.
It has been hard to find real camaraderie outside of the NFL, however Thank G-d I found it! I found it in community, in the Jewish community. Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz in his book, “We Jews: Who Are We and What Should We Do,” says the Jewish people are a family. I say we are a team that sticks together, helps one another out and finds that fifth son to pass the rich traditions of Judaism on to and leave no Jew without a seat at the Passover Seder.