Making the Passover Story Our Own

Haggadah Section: -- Cup #2 & Dayenu


Our story has been an inspiration for peoples around the world who have overthrown their oppressors.  A proposed design for the Great Seal of the United States featured an image of the Israelites crossing the sea on dry land. The newly independent Americans understood that they too had freed themselves from a tyrannical power, Great Britain's king. Africans enslaved in America for two hundred and fifty years by white slave-owners also saw themselves in the story of the Hebrews' exodus from slavery. 

The famous spiritual, "Go Down Moses," has become a highlight of the Seder. 
When Israel was in Egypt land,
Let my people go,                                           
Oppressed so hard, they could not stand,                               
Let my people go,                                           
Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt land,                           
Tell old Pharaoh to let my people go.
No more shall they in bondage toil,
Let My people go!
Let them come out with Egypt’s spoil,
Let My people go!
Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt land,
Tell old Pharaoh to let my people go.

The rabbis of old who created the Seder explained that our essential obligation on Passover is to make the story of slavery and freedom our own. So we recite together:  In every generation, one is required to see herself or himself as if she or he came out of Egypt. This act of identification helps us to empathize with those who are afflicted today and need liberation.

בְּכָל דוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָּב אִישׁ

,לִרְאוֹת אֶת עַצְמוֹ

בְּכָל דוֹר וָדוֹר חַיֶּבֶת אִשָה         

לִרְאוֹת אֶת עַצְמָהּ

כְּאִילוּ הוּא יָצָא, כְּאִילוּ הִיא יָצְאָה


B'chol dor va-dor cha–yav eesh lee-rot et atz-mo, b'chol dor va-dor cha-ye-vet ee-sha lee-rot et atz-mah ki'ee-loo hoo yah-tzah, ki'ee-loo hee yah-tz'ah mee-meetz-ra-yeem.

Herbert Levine

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Passover Guide

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