In most modern Haggadot, the phrase “Tze Ulmad” – “Go and learn” - opens a new section of the Haggadah, one in which we finally get to hear the story of the Exodus. In fact, though, the phrase comes to connect this paragraph to the previous one, “Vehi Sheamda”, in which we tell ourselves that in every generation “they” rise against us to destroy us.
“Tze Ulmad” - Go and learn, as an example, what Laban the Aramean tried to do to Jacob our forefather. He, too, tried to destroy the Jewish people (and was even worse than Pharaoh)!
This helps explain why the story of Jacob and Lavan is an appropriate point at which to start the story of the Exodus – and not, for example, the beginning of the Jewish nation, or Joseph's descent to Egypt. The episode makes clear that the story of the Exodus was not a stand-alone in Jewish history: near-destruction-and-salvation is cyclical. In fact, not only was the Exodus not a stand-alone – it wasn't even the first time this had happened. It wasn't even the worst!
The story of Lavan, therefore, illustrates perfectly the point that the Haggadah makes several times (see also “Bchol dor v'dor”): that the Exodus is relevant to us today because it is the same story, perhaps with different names, in every generation.
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