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Of Blood and Wine

03/25/2021 07:01:19 PM


There are many interactive parts to the seder, but the part that is most hands on is undeniably the dipping of our fingers into our wine during the ten plagues (see what I did there?). As explained by our Sages, we diminish our joy of being free by remembering the cost of such freedom – the suffering and death of the Egyptians. Afterall, what is more sobering than literally decreasing the volume of wine in our cups?

In a coincidence of the calendar and parsha cycle, we read this Shabbat in Parshat Tzav that it was a priest’s responsibility to dash blood on the sacrifice of wellbeing (Leviticus 7:14). Perhaps I have Passover on my mind, but I can’t help but compare the finger dripping with wine, compared to a finger dripping with sacrificial blood. Just as we take fingerfuls of wine from our cups of joy, so too does the priest take fingerfuls of blood from the offering of wellbeing - zevach hashlamim. Granted we don’t eat any of the blood, as the Torah is quite clear on that point, one can still wonder why the priest is required to sprinkle the blood on the alter in the first place.

Taking a page out of our Passover haggadot, perhaps calling attention to the blood of the sacrifice reminds the worshiper of the cost of their sacrifice. That through their intention to draw close to God, an animal died in the process. Perhaps the finger dashing of blood made the sacrifice more visceral for the worshiper and added more gravitas to the ritual. Like our reflections on the cost of our freedom, I imagine the blood sobered up the worshiper, grounding them more solidly in the realities of life. Additionally, we can also reflect on these fingerfuls of blood in the other direction. Just as the fingerfuls of blood made the sacrifice more real for the worshiper, so too does dipping our fingers in our wine and dropping them on our plate makes us more aware of our freedom. It reminds us that we can’t just say the words without pausing to reflect on their deeper meanings. Rather we have to roll up our sleeves (or whatever the equivalent would be for our fingers) and not take things – like our freedom – for granted.

Shabbat Shalom, and Pesach Kasher v’Sameach!

Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyyar 5784