A Reflection

Haggadah Section: Introduction

A Reflection

Adapted from A Commofn Road to Freedom, Leonard Fein and David Saperstein, 1996

The very first thing we are told that we must know about God, and the very first thing that God tells us wa are to know, is this:  I am Adonai Your God who brought you out of Egypt  God tells us this before commanding us not to steal and not to kill, before commanding us to observe the Sabbath day and not to worship other gods.  Yet this reminder itself is a commandment.  It is the first commandment.  What does it command us?

It commands us to know for all time that our God is a God of freedom, that he commandments God offers us are gifts, not burdens.  God wants us to understand that nothing is more central to the divine purpose than our our freedom--and that freedom depends upon just law.  Tonight, we are all of us, from youngest to the oldest, colleagues in a celebration of freedom.  

Tonight we observe a festival of most ancient origin and most modern significance.  For more than 3,000 years, Jews have gathered to retell the tale of their deliverance from Egyptian bondage.  This story is told for all peoples, whose shining conclusion is yet to unfold, we gather to observe the Passover, as it is written:

You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of Egypt.  You shall observe this day throughout your generations as a practice for all times.         (Exodus 12:17)

To celebrate the Seder is not merely to recall the Exodus; it is to recapture it.  We are taught that, "In every generation all of us are obliged to regard ourselves as if we ourselves went forth from the land of Egypt."  So it is not enough to remember; we must ourselves enter the story and, through prayer and song and symbol and ceremony, make it our own.  We must feel the lash and fell the hope that defeats its pain.  We must feel the water at our feet and the fresh breeze of freedom on our face."  

A Common Road to Freedom, Leonard Fein and David Saperstein, 1996

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