Shabbat Chol Hamo'ed Pesach
“Can these bones live again? Ezekiel 37:3
The Amidah connects us daily with the memory of our patriarchs and matriarchs in its first passage; the second passage, Mechayeh hametim, however, could be seen as linking us daily with Pesach. “You are eternally mighty, God. You give life to the dead and have great power to save”, according to the traditional text.
On the face of it, this Shabbat’s haftarah does not seem to have anything to do with Pesach; it is the background to the Amidah’s passage on the revival of the dead. Perhaps the haftarah is suggesting that Pessach is not just about remembering the past as a goal in itself, but that we remember to gain hope and cultivate vision.
We remember our ancestors’ experiences in Egypt to be able to see and do what the prophet Ezekiel did when he saw a field of skeletons and addressed them saying: “Oh dry bones, hear the words of the Eternal One.”
Just as it is unlikely that slaves, oppressed and humiliated, can ever gain freedom, so it is unlikely that dry bones can live again. But this is exactly what we talk about at Pesach, the strong belief in the renewal of life — so strong that a place where not even a minute sign of life is visible may be a scene of revival, and a place where not even a crumb of freedom is left has the potential to be liberated.
How does this happen? Ezekiel describes it in detail: the field of bones experiences changes: a rattling sound, the bones move together, sinews develop, flesh and skin grows on them and a strong wind breathes in life. The Exodus story, too, shows that change is the means of renewal. The Amidah reminds us daily of this message and opens our eyes to this perspective.