No photos from tonight – but it was another wonderful evening, full of reminders of how important it is to dwell in community, and how important food is, both to the establishment of community, as well as tradition.
For those who aren’t familiar with the holiday, Passover is a time when Jews celebrate their escape from bondage in ancient Egypt, and their 40 year exodus through the desert, leading to the eventual delivery of the 10 commandments and entry into the land of Israel.
Tonight, we took a slightly deeper look at the traditions and stories underlying the Passover holiday. Typically, the story told is that of all the Jews in Egypt breaking free from slavery, not without a little help from God, who along the way delivers 10 plagues to their oppressors and splits the Red Sea in half (you know, minor stuff). In truth though, whether you read the work of anthropologists or historians, or take a deeper look at the Torah, it is clear that the Jews weren’t the only ones fleeing oppression in Egypt. The Torah itself says that multitudes of people (including many non-Jews) made their way out into the desert – most of them of similarly impoverished.
Whether you relate to the story distinctly as a celebration of Jewish liberation or not, it strikes me that it really can be looked at as a story of people making the tough choice to take matters into their own hands, and to take the risks that lead to revolution. It’s a reminder that what oppresses us doesn’t always come from outside, be it in the form of slavery or racism or hypocrisy, but from within.
Would we have the courage today to heed the words of a burning bush? Today, one man lighting himself on fire has triggered a wave of social uprising across Tunisia and much of the Middle East. It makes me wonder: can we ignite change without the fuel of frustration and oppression? Is it possible that a comparable gesture of love could trigger a wave of awakening and growth across the lines of towns, cities, counties, states, and countries? Do we need to bear out the “plagues” that may await, or can we share in the creation of something new?
The sea was split, and the Jews still questioned – still built a golden calf out of fear that they had made the wrong choice. Leaving Egypt was a powerful gesture of faith, but the wandering that followed is where much of the work took place: facing the difficulties of the desert, and of living that leap of faith in daily life.
A willingness to wander and to accept – that to me sounds like a revolution. A willingness to recognize what one has done that isn’t in line with one’s true self, morals and values – that to me sounds like a revolution. A willingness to walk in hand in hand with the feeling of being lost, with fear and pain, and to say “I love you” – that to me sounds like revolution.
One straw is all it takes.
I love you,