Exodus: An Extraordinary Passage

The holiday of Passover is about a journey. Experiencing the holiday is a journey in and of itself. What are the journeys that matter most to us, and what can we learn about ourselves through these experiences? Here at the Global Day of Jewish Learning, we're focusing on Extraordinary Passages: Text and Travels in 2018, and the most extraordinary is the passage out of Egypt. This journey to – and from – the past is still relevant today for so many reasons. The holiday of Passover celebrates the communal and the personal voyages we made in the past and will make today.

Clip Text #1 – Exodus 13:8,14

Source: The Steinsaltz Bible (Hebrew-English), with commentary [plain text] on the Hebrew [bold text] by Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz. 2018, Koren Publishers, Jerusalem.

וְהִגַּדְתָּ֣ לְבִנְךָ֔ בַּיּ֥וֹם הַה֖וּא לֵאמֹ֑ר בַּעֲב֣וּר זֶ֗ה עָשָׂ֤ה ה' לִ֔י בְּצֵאתִ֖י מִמִּצְרָֽיִם׃

13:8 You shall tell your son* on that day, when you commemorate the exodus, saying: It is because of this, so that I will preserve the memory of these events and perform the commandments, that the Lord did this, all the signs and wonders, for me upon my exodus from Egypt.

וְהָיָ֞ה כִּֽי־יִשְׁאָלְךָ֥ בִנְךָ֛ מָחָ֖ר לֵאמֹ֣ר מַה־זֹּ֑את וְאָמַרְתָּ֣ אֵלָ֔יו בְּחֹ֣זֶק יָ֗ד הוֹצִיאָ֧נוּ ה' מִמִּצְרַ֖יִם מִבֵּ֥ית עֲבָדִֽים׃

13:14 It shall be when your son asks you tomorrow, saying: What is this? Why do you redeem the human firstborn and the firstborn of a donkey, and consecrate the firstborn of sheep, goats and cattle? You shall say to him: With strength of hand, power and force, the Lord took us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage.

Discussion Notes:
*You shall tell your son: This obligation, to preserve the memory of the exodus and to pass it on to the next generation by relating the story of the redemption to one’s children, is the basis of the Passover Haggada.

Discussion Questions for Text #1

  1. Why is it important to make the Exodus a personal experience? Are there experiences in your life or your family’s that help you relate to the feelings and challenges of slavery or fleeing? How do the paths you have taken in life help you understand the journey out of Egypt?
  2. Read Exodus 13:8 and 13:14 closely and compare how the departure from Egypt is described. Who is taking action in each verse? How do those differences in the way the verses are phrased change what you understand to be the key meaning of each verse? How might this help you understand the Haggada?
  3. There are two types of journeys in these verses: one is the physical passage out of Egypt, and the other is how the story of the Exodus is carried through time by passing down the generations. In what ways are those journeys still happening? What steps might you take to continue or contribute to these journeys?

haggadah Section: Commentary / Readings
Source: The Exodus: An Extraordinary Passage