Tonight is the first night of Passover. I did not know that on the first Shabbat that falls during Passover we read the prophecy of the dry bones. I have never heard of this before! The prophet Ezekiel experiences an unusual vision. God walks him to a valley that is filled with bones and instructs him to declare to these bones:
“I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live again” (Ezekeil 37:5). Needless to say the bones come together, bone matching bone with skin forming over them; but the bodies still did not have breath. God instructs Ezekiel to call to the ruach (wind/spirit/breath) to enter the bodies and they stood up and came to life!
Now God explains the vision to the perplexed Ezekiel, saying that the dry bones are the whole House of Israel, who are now in a state of confusion and despair but shall be revived in the future. This is almost the only place that the Hebrew Bible talks about resurrection, and even here, it appears in a vision, a prophecy.
Ok, why do we read this prophecy of the dry bones on Passover? Because the story of Passover speaks of God’s mighty hand, this prophetic reading speaks about God’s spirit. So for us to be a free people, Passover, the festival of freedom, requires more of us than military or physical strength. Sometimes heroism is “heroism of the spirit.”
So wherever we see bullying, poverty, domestic violence, and prejudice towards others (dry bones of affliction), we can offer ruach Elohim. That is, breathe out God’s message of justice and mercy for all in our world!
This year during our seder I will try and slow down time, enhancing the enjoyment and appreciation for life. I will not joke about wanting the Pesach Seder to “be over already” the truth is that we know these precious moments in time are what remain vivid for us years after the fact.
It is also a sad time for me because I lost my brother two years ago on the second night of Passover. I wish I could call to the ruach to enter his body once again!
Ralph David Stekin (Bubba) -1950-2011