Passover begins Friday night: A rabbi’s poetic reflection on freedom

The eight-day Jewish festival of Passover begins Friday night in the Jewish year 5776. The holiday celebrates the exodus of the Jews from Egyptian slavery. It is the central narrative that defines the Jewish people. Many times in the Bible Jews are admonished to do justice and “remember the stranger because you were once slaves in Egypt.” Other cultures have also taken sustenance and inspiration from this story (“Let My People Go”). It should be noted that despite the centrality of the exodus in the creation of Jewish nationhood, there is no reliable recorded or archeological evidence of the Jewish people’s sojourn in Egypt. But even if mythical, the Passover story still exerts a powerful hold on a people’s yearning for freedom.

Your Child Will Ask

By Rabbi Brant Rosen

Your child will ask
why do we observe this festival?

And you will answer
it is because of what God did for us
when we were set free from the land of Egypt.

Your child will ask
were we set free from the land of Egypt
that we might hold tightly
to the pain of our enslavement
with a mighty hand?

And you will answer
we were set free from Egypt
that we might release our pain
by reaching with an outstretched arm
to all who struggle for freedom.

Your child will ask
were we set free from the land of Egypt
because we are God’s chosen people?

And you will answer
we were set free from the land of Egypt
so that we will finally come to learn
all who are oppressed
are God’s chosen.

Your child will ask
were we set free from the land of Egypt
that we might conquer and settle
a land inhabited by others?

And you will answer
we were set free from the land of Egypt
that we might open wide the doors
to proclaim:

Let all who are dispossessed return home.
Let all who wander find welcome at the table.
Let all who hunger for liberation
come and eat.

Rabbi Rosen is the Midwest Regional Director for the American Friends Service Committee and the rabbi of Tzedek Chicago. This poem appeared on his blog Shalom Rav posted April 18, 2016.

Photo: Wikimedia (CC)


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Special to PeoplesWorld.org
Special to PeoplesWorld.org

Peoplesworld.org is a daily news website of, for and by the 99% and the direct descendant of the Daily Worker. Published by Long View Publishing Co., People’s World reports on the movements for jobs, peace, equality, democracy, civil rights and liberties, labor, immigrant, LGBT and women’s rights, protection of the environment, and more.

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