ZERO’A

The Jewish Chronicle - - JUDAISM -

I HAVE A long­stand­ing re­la­tion­ship is­sue with the shank bone on the seder plate. It is not there for eat­ing. It is there solely to re­mind us of the Pe­sach lamb which we used to eat in Tem­ple times.

Fur­ther­more, the Shulchan Aruch stip­u­lates that we should not eat for a while be­fore Pe­sach so that we have an ap­petite for matzah. When we start the seder, we are a bit peck­ish.

Sit­ting at the seder, I see the shank bone on the plate. It is roasted. It glis­tens in the light. I can see, al­most feel, the tex­ture of the meat as it clus­ters crun­chily on the bone.

But I stay here, it stays there. I try to face it down and it reaches out to me, an out­stretched arm of temp­ta­tion. I pre­tend to ig­nore it as I nib­ble pars­ley dipped in salt­wa­ter but this doesn’t work.

And in truth, this tan­ta­lis­ing food sums up the whole di­as­pora is­sue. Since the Ro­mans de­stroyed our Tem­ple some 1,900 years ago, we have had no ac­cess to the pow­erf u l s y mbolism of the sac­ri­fices, and the light o f God’ s pres­ence in the world is dimmed. And­for1,900 years, the hu­man con­di­tion has been one of un­sat­is­fied long­ing. Isa­iah (2:3) proph­e­sied that our Tem­ple would be a source of spir­i­tual en­light­en­ment for the whole world, a gen­tle in­flu­ence trans­form­ing swords into ploughshares. But while it is not re­stored, the bad news con­tin­ues to trickle in from Gaza, Dar­fur, Iraq, Ti­bet and Afghanistan. The world hungers in vain for peace and in­spi­ra­tion. Maybe next year we’ll be in Jerusalem. There’ll be world peace. God’s love will be pal­pa­ble and vis­i­ble. And I’ll get to taste that shank bone. RABBI DAVID LIS­TER Edg­ware United Syn­a­gogue

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