The Zeroah or Shank Bone on the seder plate reminds us of the pascal sacrifice, the sacrifice of a lamb on the eve of the Exodus from Egypt. It served many purposes, including as a thanksgiving offering to God for (soon) bringing us out of Egypt. It also recalls the lamb’s blood that our Israelites ancestors put on their doorposts, just before the 10th plague, so that the Angel of Death would pass over their houses.
Think about the far-reaching power of that simple act. In Egypt, many things and many animals were considered to be gods. Pharaoh was a god; the sun and the Nile were gods. Lambs were also considered gods. So, as one of their final acts before they left Egypt, the Israelites were instructed to sacrifice a lamb and place its blood on their doorposts. In doing so, they passed an important test of faith. By sacrificing the lamb, they were admitting – as much to themselves as to others or to God – that the lamb was not a god, but merely an animal. With this simple, uncommon act, our ancestors evidenced their willingness to reject all the (false) gods of the Egyptians.
Tonight, as we raise this shankbone, let us follow the lead of our Israelite ancestors. We can declare our willingness to reject the false gods of our world: We can dismiss the gods we make of celebrity and sports figure, just because they were born with talent, yet irrespective of the morality of their actions. We can pledge to move beyond our worship of the false gods of money or power. What else – what other kinds of false gods – do we worship?
(Invite others to list those things that our world worships mistakenly…)
May we have the strength, as did our Israelites ancestors, to reject these false gods. May we worship only the One that leads us to justice and compassion, to truth and peace.