Preparing for Pesach: Relating to the ‘Other’

1 And the LORD said unto Moses: ‘I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh, and on Egypt; afterwards he will let you go; when he shall let you go, he shall thrust you out altogether. 2 Speak now in the ears of the people, and let them ask every man of his neighbour, and every woman of her neighbour, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold.' 3 And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants, and in the sight of the people. "If a fellow Hebrew, a man or a woman, sells himself to you and serves you six years, in the seventh year you must let him go free. And when you release him, do not send him away empty-handed. Supply him liberally from your flock, your threshing floor and your winepress. Give to him as the Lord your G-d has blessed you. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your G-d redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today. (Devarim 15: 12-15)


-‫שמות: יא: א וַ יֹאמֶ ר יְ הוָ ה אֶ ל-מֹשֶ ה, עוֹד נגַע אֶ חָ ד ָאבִ יא עַ ל‬ ֶ --‫פַ ְרעֹה וְ עַ ל-מצריִ ם--ַאחֲ רי-כֵן, יְ שַ לַח אֶ תכֶם מזֶ ה: כְ שַ לְ חו‬ ֹ ִ ְ ֵ ַ ְ ִ ‫כָ לָה, גָרש יְ גָרש אֶ תכֶם מזֶ ה .ב דבֶ ר-נָא, בְ ָאזְ נֵי הָ עָ ם; וְ יִ שאֲ לו‬ ְ ַ ִ ְ ֵ ֵ ‫איש מֵ אֵ ת רעֵ הו, וְ אשָ ה מֵ אֵ ת ְרעותָ ה, כְ לֵי-כֶסֶ ף, וכְ לֵי זָ הָ ב .ג‬ ִ ֵ ִ ‫וַ יִ תן יְ הוָ ה אֶ ת-חֵ ן הָ עָ ם, בְ עֵ ינֵי מצריִ ם; גַם הָ איש מֹשֶ ה, גָדוֹל‬ ִ ָ ְ ִ ֵ .‫מאֹד בְ אֶ רץ מצריִ ם, בְ עֵ ינֵי עַ בְ די-פַ ְרעֹה, ובְ עֵ ינֵי הָ עָ ם‬ ֵ ַ ְ ִ ֶ ְ ;‫יב כִ י-יִ םָ כֵר לְ ָך ָאחיָך הָ עִ בְ ִרי, או הָ עִ בְ ִריָה--וַ עֲבָ ְדָך, שֵ ש שָ נִים‬ ֹ ִ ,‫ובַ שָ נָה, הַ שבִ יעִ ת, תשַ לְ חֶ מו חָ פְ שי, מֵ עִ םָ ְך .יג וְ כִ י-תשַ לְ חֶ מו חָ פְ שי‬ ִ ְ ִ ְ ְ ‫מֵ עִ םָ ְך--ֹלא תשַ לְ חֶ מו, ריקם .יד הַ ענֵיק תעֲנִיק, לו, מצֹאנְָך, ומגָרנְָך‬ ְ ִ ִ ֹ ַ ֲ ָ ֵ ְ ‫ומיִ קבֶ ָך: אֲ שֶ ר בֵ רכְ ָך יְ הוָ ה אֱ ֹלהֶ יָך, תתן-לו .טו וְ זָ כַרת, כִ י עֶ בֶ ד‬ ָ ְ ֹ ֶ ִ ַ ְ ִ -‫הָ יִ יתָ בְ אֶ רץ מצריִ ם, וַ יִ פְ ְדָך, יְ הוָ ה אֱ ֹלהֶ יָך; עַ ל-כֵן ָאנֹכִ י מצַ וְ ָך, אֶ ת‬ ְ ַ ְ ִ ֶ : ‫הַ דבָ ר הַ זֶ ה--הַ יוֹם .טז וְ הָ יָה כִ י-יֹאמַ ר אֵ לֶיָך, ֹלא אֵ צֵ א מֵ עִ םָ ְך‬ ָ

A people driven by hate are not – cannot be – free. Had the people carried with them a burden of hatred and a desire for revenge, Moses would have taken the Israelites out of Egypt, but he would not taken Egypt out of the Israelites. They would still be there, bound by chains of anger as restricting as any metal. To be free you have to let go of hate. That means drawing a line over the resentments of the past. That is why, when a slave went free, his master had to give him gifts. This was not to compensate for the fact of slavery. There is no way of giving back the years spent in servitude. But there is a way of ensuring that the parting is done with goodwill, with some symbolic compensation. The gifts allow the former slave to reach emotional closure; to feel that a new chapter is beginning; to leave without anger and a sense of humiliation. One who has received gifts finds it hard to hate. That is the significance of the silver and gold taken from the Egyptians by the Israelites at the express command of G-d. The early twentieth century commentator Benno Jacob translated the word venitzaltem in Shemot 3: 22 as ‘You shall save,’ not ‘You shall plunder’ the Egyptians. The gifts they took from their neighbours were intended, Jacob argues, to persuade the Israelites that it was not the Egyptians as a whole, only Pharaoh and the leadership, who were responsible for their enslavement. They were meant to save the Egyptians from any possible future revenge by Israel. (Jonathan Sacks)

In every generation a person is obligated to see himself as though he actually left Egypt In every generation they arise to destroy us…

‫בְּ כָ ל ּדוֹר וָדוֹר חַ יָב ָאדם לִ ְראוֹת אֶ ת עַ צמו כְ אלו הוא יָצָ א‬ ִ ֹ ְ ָ ‫מםצריִ ם‬ ַ ְ ִ ִ ‫בְּ כָ ל ּדוֹר וָדוֹר עומדים עלינו לכלותינו‬

"But, Mr. Begin, Adolf Hitler died 37 years ago... Hitler is not hiding in Nabatea, in Sidon or in Beirut. He is dead and gone. Again and again. Mr. Begin, you reveal to the public eye a strange urge to resuscitate Hitler in order to kill him every day anew in the guise of terrorists... This urge to revive and obliterate Hitler over and over again is the result of a melancholy that poets must express. but among statesmen it is a hazard that is liable to lead them along a path of mortal danger.“ (Amos Oz)
[It is] our duty to ourselves and to our children, to see the new world as it is now – to discern its dangers, explore its prospects, and do everything possible so that the State of Israel will fit into this world whose face is changing. No longer are we necessarily ‘a people that dwells alone’ and no longer is it true that the ‘whole world is against us’. We must overcome this sense of isolation that has held us in its thrall for almost half a century (Yitzchak Rabin)