Every story has a story beyond it.
The story tells the facts. This happened, that happened.
But the story beyond the story gives a deeper understanding. It tells you about the motivations, it provides context.
And passover is no different.
We’re all familiar with the story. The Israelites were slaves for many years; G-d sent Moses and Aaron to take them out of Eygpt; after refusing to “let my people go” and suffering ten plagues, Pharaoh relents and agrees to let the Jews out.
Yet this story has another story beyond it.
In the words of the Talmud, “our ancestors were redeemed from Egypt by the merits of the righteous women!”
It was all because of the women. The credit for the miraculous escape from Eygpt belongs to them.
So what was the contribution of women to the exodus? Have they smuggled weapons into the hands of Hebrew fighters, or have they been secret partisans who blew up Eygptian army bases?
The answer is no and no. In fact, there wasn’t any Jewish rebellion in Eygpt. The Jews were subjected to a harsh life in slavery, and rebellion was not even a feasible option.
The gift women gave to the Jewish nation was not a physical gift, but it was much more valuable.
It was the gift of faith.
The Talmud describes how, despite the very difficult conditions in the Jewish camps, the women always motivated themselves and those around them. Even when the Jewish men experienced dejection, the women insisted on bringing more life to the world.
In a beautiful passage from the Midrash, which describes the song of the women by the splitting of the sea, the Midrash notes while the men were only singing, the women also used musical instruments. Where did they get the instruments from? “The righteous women of that generation were so sure that the Holy One, blessed to be He, would perform miracles for them, they took tambourines out of Egypt.”
Can you imagine that? For 210 years, the Jews were slaves in Egypt. After such a long time, you would expect they will give up and simply get used to the idea that they will be enslaved forever.
Not the women.
They maintained their faith. “If G-d promised to take us out of here, he will; so let’s prepare for the big celebration.”
As we approach Passover, this is the perfect time to be inspired by women and to adopt this stubbornly positive attitude. Just as in Egypt, G-d promised us: it will be good!