It is a story retold every year, and for good reason.
More than 600,000 Israelite families found themselves trapped in slavery in Egypt with little recourse. And then their God sent someone to bring them out of bondage and into freedom.
The biblical account of the Passover has extraordinary significance for the millions of Jews throughout the world. It codified their covenant with God, united them as a nation and gave them a new vision of how to conduct their lives.
This story, however, holds great meaning for the broader world as well. It’s the first epic tale of liberation in human history, one that continues to reverberate with all those who cherish freedom. It also gave us the Ten Commandments, which have served as the basis of religious moral teaching and the foundation of law in Western civilization.
Throughout their history, Jews have recalled the Passover story to bring them hope when it was needed most. Their time in Egypt wasn’t their last experience with oppression, and recounting this victory over slavery has inspired every generation since to resist injustice.
But all those who have endured tyranny have found strength in the details of the Passover account. For Black Americans fighting against the scourge of slavery, God’s promise to the Israelites was also God’s promise to them. The story of Moses leading Israelite families out of bondage helped American slaves cling to the notion that they would be delivered them from their misery and find a better life down the road.
The Passover holiday began at sundown Saturday and will last until sundown Sunday.
This Seder includes many traditional foods and customs, allowing Jews to celebrate their identity as a people of faith.
But the novel coronavirus pandemic over the past year has compelled many families to modify their get-togethers. They’ve needed to use technology such as Skype, FaceTime and Zoom to be with each other in a virtual setting. And for those who can’t join each other online, there’s the good old fashioned telephone.
Medical professionals are urging people to take this route rather than gathering together physically. While being under the same roof is incredibly tempting, savings lives is critical.
It’s natural for us to want to be in the presence of those we love during special moments. However, we should keep in mind that Passover represents overcoming the worst adversities that life has to offer. At its foundation, freedom is about survival.
And this continues to depend on our willingness to give each other the space we all need to remain healthy. What greater sign of love can we offer to one another?
This annual observance occurs at the close of the Christian Lenten season, starting with Holy Week and ending with Easter Sunday. This represents for believers a spiritual liberation that frees them from the bondage of sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus, according to the Christian scriptures.
For Jews and Christians, this is the time to recall the past and celebrate their victories over the forces of evil keeping them in chains. And for those in the faith and nonbelievers alike, it’s a moment to reflect on the power of hope and a chance to recommit ourselves to the struggle against all forms of oppression.
To all who value justice and freedom, Chag Pesach Sameach!