Freedom doesn’t always feel that great. The liberation of the Israelites from slavery resulted in 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. As the story goes, they were hungry and thirsty and frequently wished they were back in Egypt, where at least they had three squares and a roof over their heads. The punishment: no one (except 2) who left Egypt were allowed to enter Canaan. Everyone else died in the wilderness. It was their children who entered the promised land.
Judaism (and its cousin, Islam) is not a religion of belief in the same way that Christianity tends to be. It’s about practice. Less important than what one believes is what one does.
Pesach (Passover) is a commemoration and a re-enactment of sorts. The story is told every year. The foods that were eaten over 3,000 years ago – unleavened bread, bitter herbs, lamb, saltwater, egg, wine, etc. – are eaten every year.
Why? It’s about more than keeping the story alive. Every generation has to do it every year because freedom, it turns out, cannot be bequeathed or borrowed beyond one generation. Every people, every individual, has to participate in the hard work of their own liberation.
In the book of Exodus, it was God who started the whole thing. If it had been up to the Hebrews, they would probably still be in Egypt.
Call it God, Life, Love, Grace, Reality … something moves first. After that, the passage from slavery to freedom is a lifetime’s work, and no one can take the journey for us.
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