You are here

First Day Pesach 2019

It was around Pesach two years ago when Article 50 was triggered, signaling the beginning of the UK leaving the European Union. Little did we know that we would still be amid long and difficult exit negotiations as Pesach comes around once again. Some three thousand, three hundred and two years ago, Moses was undertaking his own long and harrowing withdrawal negotiations with Pharaoh, whose obstinance led to many plagues befalling the Egyptians as punishment for him not letting the People go. We are told to teach the next generation the story of the exodus through engagement with our Seder night meal following its ‘order’.

One question I ask of the younger children at our Seder is “what does it mean to be a slave?”. The usual reply is not being able to do what you want when you want. When we ask, ‘what is freedom?’, the usual answer is being able to do what we want, the opposite of slavery. But as well as freedom of movement, is freedom of thought. Many scholars suggest we may be physically free, but we need to also be spiritually free. Chief Rabbi Mirvis says Freedom is not just the absence of oppression, but the presence of a meaningful route to fulfill one's hopes and ambitions. In the Haggadah we read “In every generation a person must see him or her self as if they have themselves come out from Mitzrayim (Egypt)”. The Hebrew word for "Egypt”, “Mitzrayim”, comes from a Hebrew root which means to bind, shackle, to be bound or a boundary, and also it means servitude, or slavery. So it could be saying we should step out from our own individual "Egypt" and we must strive to overcome our own backstops and get away from what binds us. At this time of year, we should aim to pass-over those boundaries which constrain us and rally against those that have constrained our people in the past.

For over 3000 years we have held meaningful Seders and have been reminding the future generations about the Jewish exodus from Egypt. By re-telling the story of ‘Jexit’ we can continue to celebrate the true meaning of freedom.

Ashley Reece

More documents on this Parshah: