Photo Credit:
Selena Meyers, blogger for The Jewish Press online

It’s the festival we have all grown to know and love. Some say Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur are the pinnacle holidays, but I believe Pesach truly defines us.

Pesach is about the Jews’ plight to freedom from the clutches of Pharaoh and the Egyptians. The story is famous, but not just amongst ourselves. It was that moment in history that we unified as a people and walked towards the acceptance of the Torah and its laws.

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Throughout the ages, persecution has been a recurring theme for our religion. Be it expulsion, pogroms, holocausts or mass-murder, new faces have risen to direct hatred toward us. Many have tried to rid the world of each and every one of us, but not once have they managed to succeed.

When I sat down for this year’s seder, surrounded by family, we discussed the story in detail. We spoke about our forefathers; the inhumane work they were forced to do, the murder of newborn babies and the heinous attacks they received. Yet, putting things into a modern-day perspective, we could have been reviewing the events of the past century.

Times may have changed, yet the oppression continues on.

Admittedly, there are some stories through our history that are difficult to envisage. For instance, the flood that destroyed the world besides for Noah and his children; it’s easy to understand the concept, but to imagine it actually taking place is hard. Or the idea that Lott’s wife, after turning around to watch the destruction of their city, changed into a pillar of salt. However, I don’t think anyone can deny how simple it is to comprehend the grief our ancestors had for hundreds of years. It’s relatable because it’s repeated so frequently.

The struggle faced in Egypt became the past. It may have happened millenniums ago but the message of endurance is still applicable. We are not in slavery but symbolically, we are bound together through a different type of chains.

So what should we understand that we can take into our lives in the 21st century?

When the tribes first went down to Egypt, Yosef was an important figure. His father and brothers settled comfortably and started to adapt to their changed surroundings. Food and water were in abundance in contrast to what they had just come from. Easily, their trust grew in this new country and its leader because their means and day-to-day existence became better and more relaxed.

Generation after generation continued to settle there, steadfast in the knowledge that they were welcomed like royalty decades before. Over time, Yosef and his brothers passed away, leaving behind their grandchildren and great-grandchildren in a land that was never going to be their real home.

A new king rose to power, decidedly ignorant to why the Jews deserved any right to be treated well. They became complacent and thought that this is where they belonged. Little did they know what trauma was awaiting them in the future.

This is the original story of our survival. The reason why this tale is so famous is because it shows that G-d is always there, forever in the background, no matter how cloudy it may seem.

If you changed the details to concentration camps, Nazis and Europe, surely the resemblance is more than apparent?

It doesn’t matter what they dress up as or what they’re called, the original Pharaoh and his henchmen are still here. The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Nazis have all been defeated, but this story remains the essence of our identity because it serves as a harrowing reminder.

I used to think to myself; why is the constant theme of seder night Leshana Haba’ah Benai Chorin (Next year we hope to be free) or Leshana Haba’ah B’Yerushalyim (Next year we hope to be in Jerusalem). Surely, with our passports and technology, we are finally have our freedom?

I’ve grown to realize that the message of the Pesach story is in actual fact a warning against this feeling. When we start to feel accepted, that is when we should be worried. Our trials and tribulations strengthen our faith and unity. We are our strongest when we are united, and we are never more united than when we feel pain. We are not free, we never will be.

One day, eagle’s wings will approach, and with that, our redemption will at last be final.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Yes indeed, do remember learn from it!!! Stop saying "next year", say this year I will go home! If not, history will repeat itself, C"V.

    http://s19.postimg.org/x88tp1cr7/History_repeats_itself.jpg

    Moshe Rabbeinu had laid out HaShem’s immediate and future plans for the Jewish people. They would leave Egypt, receive the Torah at Mount Chorev, and then physically expel or even kill millions of Canaanites living in Eretz Yisrael in order to inherit the land, as promised to Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov.

    The sheer immensity of the plan made eighty percent of the Jewish people recoil in disbelief. How could they, a people born in slavery, broken in body and spirit, go out into the foreboding desert, and then make war upon seven Cannanaite nations strategically divided into 31 powerful city states? Where would they get food and water in the desert? Who would heal their wounds and train them militarily? Does not the very idea that they would not enter the Holy Land as pious pilgrims, but as imperialistic conquerors run counter to the traditions they received from their parents of a compassionate and loving God?

    Religious logic, they claimed, dictates that HaShem would give them the Torah and they would live in peace and tranquility here in Egypt, as benevolent rulers over their former masters. And after several generations of experiencing freedom, they could come to Eretz Yisrael through some sort of political understanding or through historical evolution resulting in the millions of goyim living in Eretz Yisrael disappearing.

    Most concluded that it was not possible that what Moshe was saying originated from the compassionate, loving God of our ancestors.

    For them, emancipation from slavery meant that they could now sit in the front of the Alexandria express bus. They could eat in restaurants without the ubiquitous “No Hebs or dogs allowed” sign. The Egyptians would no longer call them “boy,” but now they would be called “sir.” They could walk with heads held high, because Moshe – one of their own – was the most popular figure in public life. These were the upper limits of their dreams – the bus, the restaurant, the respect.

    Then there were the other 20% who had no means of negating the claims of the overwhelming 80% majority in a logical way, because logic was totally on the side of the “refuseniks”. Nevertheless, these 20% tenaciously accepted that Moshe’s message was directed to him by HaShem.

    The day of reckoning was not far off. During the plague of darkness, the 80% of “rational humanitarian” Jews perished, and the remaining 20% left Egypt to take up HaShem’s mission. We are the descendants of those 20%.

  2. Jews living abroad: stop being delusional. The money and material things will be taken from you, you are in constant danger. Come to Israel, settle the country. Come with joy and wholeheartedly like they came in 1948 when they kissed the ground out of love for G'd – learn from them! If you do not learn, G'd will do with you as He did with them. The calm in anti-Semitism is so that you can take the time to come to Israel. If you think it is over, you are mistaken, dear Jews. They will come to your homes, to the temples, to the schools, to the businesses. The entire world, except for Israel, is in conflict and it will not stop until the messiah king is crowned.

  3. All of the Jews living abroad, G'd is warning them to urgently come to the holy land of Israel! If they don't make Aliyah, they will lose – G'd never loses. Anti-Semitism in the world, ISIS and extreme Islamists, will toss them from their homes and work and will take their property, they will be left with nothing. It is better to come to Israel now with Joy, to sell your property at any price, than be thrown to the streets. These are harsh but true things. There is no choice, the words are harsh in order to save Jews living abroad. ISIS, Muslims, and anti-Semitism is destroying all of Europe and the United States. If the Jews don't wake up, there will come a time when they cannot run, it will be too late to come to Israel. If there are Jews married to gentiles – they need to come to Israel and convert them. Israel is the mother and father of all of the Jews in the world.

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