Exodus in 7 Hot Takes

By Cara Levine

  1. Once upon a time, the Jewish people went into exile in the land of Egypt. During a famine, our ancestors Jacob and his family fled to Egypt where food was plentiful. His son Joseph had risen to a high position in Pharaoh’s court, and they were well-respected and well-regarded, secure in the power structure of the time.
  2. Generations passed and, in time, a new Pharaoh ascended to the throne. He found the Jewish people’s differences threatening and ordered them enslaved. In fear of rebellion, Pharaoh ordered that all Hebrew AMAB (assigned male at birth) babies must be murdered at birth. Two Egyptian midwives (known to be lovers) named Shifrah and Puah defied his orders, claiming that “the Hebrew women are so hardy, they give birth before we arrived!” Through their courage, Moses survived. Fearing for his safety, his mother & sister Miriam placed him in a basket, and he floated down the Nile. Thanks to Miriam’s intervention he was found, and adopted, by Pharaoh’s daughter, who named him Moshe because min ha-mayim m’shitihu, from the water she drew him forth. She hired his mother Yocheved as his wet-nurse, who shared his Jewish identity with him. He survived to adulthood and was raised as the privileged Prince of Egypt.
  3. When Moses was young he brought a piece of burning coal into his mouth and gained disability. Moses grew up aware of the slaves who worked in this father’s brickyards. When he saw an overseer abuse a slave, he killed him. Fearing retribution, he set out across the Sinai desert alone. The Voice of God spoke to him from a burning bush, which flamed but was not consumed. The Voice called him to lead the Hebrew people to freedom. Moses argued with God, pleading inadequacy, but God disagreed.
  4. Moses returned to Egypt and went to Pharaoh to argue that slavery is an injustice. He gave Pharaoh the mandate of mandates: LET MY PEOPLE GO and he said it with a LISP. Pharaoh refused, and Moses warned him that God would strike down the enslavers. Ten terrible plagues were unleashed upon the Egyptians & only when his nation lay in ruins did Pharaoh agree to the liberation of the Jewish people.
  5. Fearful that Pharaoh would change his mind, the people fled, not waiting for their bread dough to rise (matzo!) The Jewish people did not leave Egypt alone; people from all levels of privilege and ethnicity went with them. Liberation is not for Jews alone, but for all the nations of the earth. Even Pharaoh’s daughter came with us, and traded her old title (bat-Pharaoh, daughter of Pharaoh) for the name Batya, “daughter of God.”
  6. Pharaoh changed his mind and had his army follow the free people to the Sea of Reeds. The waters parted and they passed, and the great queer femme prophetess Miriam led them in “the song of the sea” which she improvised on the spot. The seas closed after the free people crossed and Pharaoh’s army drowned.
  7. To this day we relive our liberation, that we may not become complacent, that we may always rejoice when we are free, and fight when all/anyone/any peoples, are oppressed.

Loosely Adapted from Story of Exodus, Abbreviated. by Ezra Weissman

haggadah Section: -- Exodus Story