In a Passover message from United with Israel, David Zeit reminds us of the true meaning of the holiday, which is to defend genuine freedom and to rely on no one but the Almighty for salvation.
“And it is this [covenant] that has stood for our Forefathers and us. For not just one enemy has stood against us to wipe us out. But in every generation there have been those who have stood against us to wipe us out, and the Holy One Blessed Be He saves us from their hands.” (The Passover Haggadah)
For Jews around the world, the above passage from the Passover Haggadah is a perennial theme during the Passover holiday season. Here in Israel, however, it is a palpable reminder every day of the year.
This passage is often quoted, but too often only partially. “But in every generation there have been those who have stood against us to wipe us out” – true. Just open your history books and read about all those who said as much, tried as much and were unsuccessful. Today, with the advent of social media and the internet, such messages are heard loud and clear almost to a numbing degree.
Passover is the holiday that celebrates freedom and liberation. The celebration of becoming a nation from a collection of individuals. So is it not it ironic that those who call for our destruction in this generation completely oppose freedom and liberation? Is it not ironic that those who call for our destruction completely oppose nationhood and unity because ruling over a collection of individuals is precisely the enslavement that they crave? The truth is that it is not ironic – it is the undertone of the extremist political climate throughout the Middle East, except in Israel.
Israel’s Enemies are the Enemies of Freedom
Famous 19th-century German poet Heinrich Heine once wrote: “Since the Exodus, freedom has always spoken with a Hebrew accent.” This is precisely what our enemies are trying to obliterate: Those that carry the message of freedom. Those that carry the message of unity and nationhood. Along with our sacks that we carried out of Egypt 3,000 years ago, we carried those messages for the world to learn, absorb and implement. Yet the pharaohs of the 21st century continue to harden their hearts. They not only hate the accent in which freedom is spoken, they hate the message itself and certainly the messenger.
The part of the opening passage that is too infrequently quoted is the suffix and the crux of the message. “And the Holy One Blessed Be He saves us from their hands.” Always. Historians are in awe of the survival of the Jewish People throughout the millennia. A stateless, wandering, persecuted people – how is it possible? Simple. The Holy One Blessed Be He saves us from their hands. It is a covenant, and God always keeps His promises. Which is why we do not fear our enemies and we should not rely on anyone other than ourselves and God to determine our destiny. It has been so in every generation until now, and it will continue to be so for generations to come.
Freedom, certainly in the Middle East but also around the world, will continue to be spoken with a Hebrew accent. And I pray that the world will look to the Jewish People as God’s ambassadors of freedom, unity and nationhood.
Chag Sameyach – Have a Happy and Healthy Passover!