Passover Reflections 2019

Infertility Awareness Week coincides this year with Passover, a holiday that celebrates freedom.  When one is struggling along a fertility journey, freedom is illusive, and one more often is enslaved by pain, loss, jealousy, frustration, and broken dreams.  The juxtaposition of acknowledging those who are feeling trapped with those who are celebrating freedom is stark and beckons a response. The piece below seeks to bring the voice of those enslaved into the celebrations of the free in order to engender sensitivity, inclusivity, and a communal embrace.

At the center of the Pesach Hagaddah, embedded in the reply to the ‘child who does not know how to ask’ is the instruction:   וְִהַגְּדָתּ ְלִבנְךָ בּיּוֹםַ ההוּא (Exodus 8:13), and you shall tell your child on this day. This is the mitzvah of telling one’s child about the journey from slavery to the Promised Land.

Perhaps this is the moment to invoke the fifth child. This fifth child is absent from the Hagaddah because this child is not yet wise, wicked, simple or quiet. This child has yet to be born and resides entirely in your heart and in your dreams. The fifth child reaches out to to the heart’s of the seder guests, gently reminding them to be conscious of their fellow guests who can only dream of having a child to ask the Four Questions, or steal the Afikoman, or spill grape juice on the tablecloth. By including the fifth child, perhaps we can break free of some of the isolation experienced by those in the throes of fertility struggles and help them experience the seder as a night of freedom rather than another night of darkness.

Please consider including the following paragraph to seder:

The Yet to be Born Child – what does s/he say?
“Why is this journey so long? Why does the path seem so obscure and unending?”
With no real words to answer, you of er him/her understanding with a hug, a moment of quiet and the chance to express thoughts and feelings, for you both hold the truth that fertility journeys are עֲבוֹדָה קָשֶׁה – brutal work.

For another perspective on the Fifth Child, please see Uprooted’s Clinical Fertility Educator Dr. Julie Bindeman’s blog post from our partner organization Hasidah.