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Refocusing On The Haggadah Narrative


Interestingly, the willingness to find inspiration at the seder for the courage needed to persist in our current battles runs somewhat against the grain for some. These days, many seek to make our religious rituals “relevant” by transforming the Jewish festival of freedom into a metaphor for every cause but our own.

In these times, it sometimes feels as if to even raise the question of the Haggadah’s prophecy of an endless assault on the Jews is to run the risk of being politically incorrect. It may be easier for many of us to view Passover through the prism of other struggles, but it’s necessary to remind ourselves that it is still a tale of Jewish struggle and redemption.

That’s why students of all ages, as well as their parents, must recall that the goal of contemporary anti-Semitism is specifically to detach us from our history and our connection to Israel.

The retelling of the story of the Exodus seems to inspire free people everywhere.

Yet it also represents the aspirations of countless generations of Jews, who dreamed not merely of universal freedom but of the revival of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel. We owe it to them, and even more, to ourselves and to those who will come after us, to never forget that.

Refocusing on that narrative is daunting when you consider the rising support for Palestinian dreams of eradicating Israel and the world’s willingness to tolerate Iran’s faith-based drive for nuclear weapons to help accomplish that horrifying goal. In the face of such hatred, it’s possible to lose heart and to stand silent while an intellectual mob bays for Jewish blood.

But as difficult as the times may be, the words of the Haggadah, which may be hastily read or stumbled over in the rush to get to the food, can still supply us with the courage we need. It’s a lesson we must teach again to our children and ourselves. Like each Jewish generation since the Exodus that preceded us, we can dine well on the inspiration and the promise these words offer.

About the Author: Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of Commentary magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com, where this first appeared. He can be reached via e-mail at jtobin@commentarymagazine.com.


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