For us it was never enough to be people of the book. We are also people of body, of flesh and tongue, of stomach and loins. We are a people who love our scripture so much that we eat it. Whole verses written in meat and vegetables, whole chapters written in bread—braided, flat, covered, hidden. Sermons laid out on plates and spooned into bowls. Some of it optional, much of it commanded.

To eat the korekh sandwich is to ingest the truth that the world is beautiful but it is not safe.1

It is beautiful: for us, for the lamb, for the creatures who scurry in the plowed fields of wheat and between the garden rows of leafy greens, for the insects who relish the dark hug of soil around the gnarled roots.

And it is not safe—not for us, or for the lamb, or for the lamb’s mother. Not for creatures who flee the shadow of wings or seek in vain for water, not for the insects who feel the tug of the beak or the crushing weight of poison.

The world is beautiful but it is not safe.

I have railed to God against this truth, filled the cracks in my broken heart with wails like a river roaring. I have flailed and jabbed at the Holy One of Blessing, looking for a foothold, a chance to claw us all out of this deal, this existence where mountains shimmer and music soars, where the tiniest flower opens in season. And where children grow sick and hungry, where animals languish, where sea levels rise and fires rage, where suffering still occurs, and en masse.

Then every year, I sit at a table and bring this terrible truth to my plate: the bread of freedom that is also the bread of want. The herb that purges my sinuses and also burns my eyes. The mixture like mortar that also tastes of spring.

And the missing lamb.

"They will eat the Passover lamb on matzot and bitter herbs," God tells Moses (Numbers 9:11).

I look at my plate: Here is the matzah, and here the bitter herb, but where is the lamb for the offering?2

My son reaches for his water. My sister nurses her new spring baby. My parents graze each other’s arms over the greens. Like a shepherd, my husband watches over us at the table as he brings another bowl of haroset.

The world is beautiful but it is not safe.

Our scrolls written on their skin, our months and years heralded by blowing their horns—we pretend otherwise, and yet are never far from the sweat and muzzle of the herd. I take a bite, and as the sting burns like a knife in my throat, I run my hands over my body and could swear I feel the soft grease of wool, the weight of tiny hooves, the hot fluttering heart, longing for the sun.

1 Thank you to my teacher, Rabbi Allan Lehmann, for articulating this wording to me years ago

2 See Genesis 22:7