No Empty Seats at the Seder

Friday, 19 March, 2021 - 3:03 pm

In the 1970s, there was a call to American Jewry to set an empty seat at the Seder table, symbolizing our identification with the plight of Russian Jews stuck behind the Iron Curtain.

The Rebbe responded to that call with a call of his own. Instead of setting an empty seat for Russian Jews at the Seder table, find a Jew who would otherwise not attend the Seder and fill that seat. This, the Rebbe declared, would be a more effective means of identification with Russian Jews. Since all Jews are interconnected, a Jew who fulfills a mitzvah on one side of the world, can uplift and support a Jew in another part of the world who is forbidden to fulfill that same Mitzvah.

This was a continuing echo of a concept that the Rebbe introduced in the 1950s, called the fifth son. We are all aware of the four sons at the Seder, the wise, wicked, simple, and the one who does not know to ask. The Rebbe said that in the USA we have a fifth son, the one who does not know enough or care enough to even show up at the Seder. It is our task to ensure that this lost Jewish child attends a Seder.

Last year nearly everyone had an unusual Seder. There were many empty seats. There were many missing children and lonely parents. There were many families and groups of friends who were kept apart by the pandemic. As the population gets vaccinated and things begin to open up, let us make sure that everyone is remembered. Nobody should be allowed to fall through the cracks. There should not be an empty seat at the Seder.

This year we need to take extra care that there not be people who are alone because they have nowhere to be. No empty seats at the Seder!!

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom and happy Passover prep!
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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