Our story starts in ancient times with Abraham, who followed God’s command and became the very first believer. The idea of one God, invisible and all-powerful, inspired him to leave his family and begin a new people in Canaan, the land that would one day bear his grandson Jacob’s adopted name, Israel.
God made a promise to Abraham that his family would become a great nation, but this promise came with a vision of the troubles along the way: “Your descendants will dwell for a time in a land that is not their own, and they will be enslaved and afflicted for four hundred years; however, I will punish the nation that enslaved them, and afterwards they shall leave with great wealth.”
Raise your glass of wine and say:
וְהִיא שֶׁעָמְדָה לַאֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ וְלָֽנוּ.
V’hi she-amda l’avoteinu v’lanu.
This promise has sustained our ancestors and us.
For not only one enemy has risen against us to annihilate us, but in every generation, there are those who rise against us. But God saves us from those who seek to harm us.
Put down your glass of wine.
In the years our ancestors lived in Egypt, our numbers multiplied, and soon the family of Jacob became the People of Israel. Pharaoh and his advisers became alarmed by this great nation flourishing within their borders, so they enslaved us. We were forced to perform hard labor, perhaps even build pyramids. Our oppressors feared that even as slaves, the Israelites might grow strong and overthrow them, so Pharaoh decreed that Israelite baby boys should be drowned in the Nile.
But God heard the cries of the Israelites. And God brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and outstretched arm, with great awe, miraculous signs and wonders. God brought us out not by angel or messenger, but through God’s own intervention.
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