Clarity in Liberation

בְּכָל-דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָּב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת-עַצְמוֹ כְּאִלּוּ הוּא יָצָא מִמִּצְרַיִם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וְהִגַּדְתָּ לְבִנְךָ בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא לֵאמֹר

 .בַּעֲבוּר זֶה עָשָׂה ה' לִי בְּצֵאתִי מִמִּצְרַיִם

(Pesachim 116b) Rabban Gamliel's Three Things 

“In each and every generation, each person should feel personally redeemed from Egypt " (Pesachim 116b)

“For the sake of this, did the Lord do [this] for me in my going out of Egypt." (Exodus 13:8)

Each year as we sit down to our Passover seder, we retell the mythic narrative of our peoples’ liberation from slavery to freedom. We are obligated to transmit the story of our people from generation to generation, as well as to experience the journey from enslavement to freedom as if it had happened to each one of us. 

History has been a powerful teacher. Over the course of history, we have been repeatedly persecuted by the Amalek of each generation, and conversely, persecution has been followed by periods of freedom and expansion. This optimistic reading of our historical pattern gives us hope in the difficult times that we will be liberated and have freedom. Our commitment as Jews is to remember and transmit our story, and to obligate ourselves to be part of the process of liberation for all humanity. 

In addition to our reliving the physical exodus of our people, we commit to reflecting on our own internal chametz, for example, our addiction to social media, work, material objects, or Lashon Hara (gossip).  Our understanding of the personal nature of the work of Pesach, comes from the words of the Haggadah, that each person is obligated to relive the exodus for themselves- atzmo-etzem. The word etzem is a word that refers to our spiritual selves, our divine spark, or the essence of a human being.

According to Me’or Eynayim, an 18th-century rabbinic Hassidic commentator, when our ancestors were slaves in Egypt, awareness itself went into exile. As our ancestors came through the Red Sea, they regained their awareness and agency. 

For most of us, the past two years of COVID have been a time out of time, set in an increasingly fraught and unstable world. The rupture in our lives has been enormous. Often, times like these can give way to new ideas creativity, and a renewed look at ourselves and our priorities. 

As we begin to emerge from our own Red Sea, may we be blessed with the gift of awareness to clarify what is deeply important to each of us.


-What new things have you learned about yourself over the recent past?

-What changes, if any, do you wish to make?

-What practices will assist you to make the changes you desire?

*Learn more about "What Matters: Caring Conversations About End of Life" at

haggadah Section: Commentary / Readings
Source: Rabbi Marion Lev-Cohen