Linking the Generations - Yom Rishon shel Pesach 1st Day of Passover Holidays (Exodus 12:37-42, 13:3-10)
Yom Rishon shel Pesach
1st Day of Passover
Exodus 12:37-42, 13:3-10 (Bo)
The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot …
Freedom, Equality and Redemption
These were the three main themes that our students mentioned when asked what they had learned were the most important values we learn from Passover.
This week, we read from the Passover selection that brings us back to Bo (go!) Consistently in services, we have been awaiting this time of year because as we have been reading about the Exodus from Egypt since early February and we have been foreshadowing Pesach.
The centrality of the Exodus narrative in our tradition is undeniable. Mitzrayim is one of the most frequently occurring words in the Torah and there is good reason for that. Mi Chamocha – a song about moving from bondage to freedom – has the singular privilege of bringing us back to that moment in every service we are a part of. So we ask the question, why? Why is this story so central, so important and so relevant?
Well, if our students are correct, the themes of Freedom, Equality, and Redemption are probably some of the most important concepts one might need to live a good life. And Passover – and the references throughout our narrative and liturgy – remind us to reflect on those themes more often than any other. We can be slaves to so many things. How do we free ourselves when that happens? Enslaving another – either literally in the common usage or figuratively in other more nuanced ways – is something we never want to be a part of and should work to eradicate. And redemption – the idea that we can always be freed or that we can always recover from a moment of weakness – what an amazing concept for people to understand. For a student to realize that a wrong can quickly be atoned for and a behavior quickly changed is most likely a liberating concept in the pressure filled world of youth today.
More importantly, our students also understand these concepts are not just about history and philosophy. Passover comes around every year and is referenced in every service so we can remember that we were once slaves in Egypt. Therefore it is our obligation to make sure that doesn’t happen to us or any other group of people ever again. And to do that we need to act. We need to care. We need to notice. We need to remember what it must have been like for the slaves of Pharaoh so that we can realize how hard we must work against those evils today.
In a concluding conversation and in response to one student’s question, we focused on the phrase "mixed multitude” in this Parashah. A diverse group of people, Israelites and others, left Egypt. And later on in the Parashah, there is explicit reference given to those people who were not children of Jacob, but who wanted to be a part of our community. If those people wanted to fallow the God of Abraham and were willing to adopt the teachings of Moses, they could. They were welcomed. Even then, the stranger was welcomed. We live in a diverse world and in a diverse country. Our tradition teaches us that remembering Passover and the joys of freedom are for everyone.
Additional Torah Study Resources:
ReformJudaism.org Torah Study / Leading a Family Torah Discussion
week’s Parasha for Tweens