Our journey to freedom is almost at the end

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It’s the last day of Passover, and we are not yet free.

In the Haggadah, we read on the first night(s):

We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt.

But the truth is that the Jewish people have been slaves not only to Pharaoh in Egypt, but also many times throughout the generations.

As it says, later in the Haggadah:

“For not only one has risen against us to annihilate us, but in every generation…

Already in Genesis 37:28, we learn that Joseph was sold into Egyptian servitude:

So when the Ishmaelites, who were Medianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers took him out of the pit and sold him for twenty pieces of silver, and the traders took him to Egypt.

This was followed by the enslavement of all Israel in Exodus 1:8-11:

Now there arose a new king over Egypt who did not know Joseph…they set over them {the Israelites] task masters to afflict them with hard labor; the Israelites built the treasure cities of Pithom and Ramses.

Despite our redemption from slavery in Egypt (1312 BCE), we continue through cycle after cycle of enslavement and exile.

  • After only 700 years of the Israelites leaving Egypt and settling the Promised Land (1272 BCE), the Jews experience the Assyrian Captivity (555 BCE), where the 10 tribes of Israel were marched off in chains into slavery and exile, and they were ultimately lost to us.
  • A little more than 100 years later, the Babylonians destroy the First Temple (422BCE), and the Jews are taken into exile and servitude again, as we read on Tisha B’Av in Megilat Eichah 1:3:

Judah is gone into exile under affliction and harsh servitude.

  • Less than 100 years pass and during the Persian Empire (355 BCE), we learn in Megilat Esther how the evil Haman wanted the Jew, Mordechai, to bow down to him, and when Mordechai didn’t, Haman hatched his diabolical plan to try to destroy the Jews once again.
  • Two hundred years more, now under the Greeks, anyone not from the Aegean Peninsula was considered a barbarian and worthy only as a slave of the empire and their Hellenistic practices, but the heroic Maccabees (138 BCE) rose up to fight for our freedom and the right to serve our one and only G-d.
  • Another two hundred years, and the Roman Empire similarly tried to make Israel into a vassal state of theirs and to force the Jews into harsh tribute. After the destruction of the Second Temple (70 CE), we see on The famous Arch of Titus in Rome, the Jews again marched into slavery, and the evil emperor Titus even forced 20,000 Jewish slaves to build the Roman Coliseum where the gladiators brutally slaughtered each other in game for the enjoyment of the citizens of Rome.
  • Then after a long, painful exile replete with crusades, inquisitions, expulsions, pogroms, and persecution lasting almost 2,000 years, the Final Solution under the Nazis (1941-1945 CE) forced millions of Jews into slave labor and death camps to build and feed the very war machine and hew the stones of the crematoria.¬† The Jews were again considered an inferior race only worthy of slavery and genocide, while the Nazis fought the Allies, enriched themselves, and proceeded methodically to murder six million Jews.

Truly in every generation our enemies have risen to enslave and destroy us.

In nature, we learn that a caterpillar grows to become a butterfly, but for the Jews we have never become free as a butterfly, but always revert back to a caterpillar, crawling in the dust of the earth again, when we don’t follow Hashem. This is not to imply of course that the individual victims are to blame.

In Kabbalah, we learn that the Jewish soul reincarnates until it reaches its spiritual enlightenment and fulfills all the mitzvot. Similarly, the soul of the Jewish people is reincarnated and relives painful destruction, slavery, and exile until we learn, grow, and finally become what we are destined to be as servants only of Hashem and as a light unto the nations. This has been our fate, but also it is one that we are finally nearing the end of with the return to the Promised Land and perhaps even the arrival soon of Mashiach.

About the Author
Andy Blumenthal is a business and technology leader who writes frequently about Jewish life, culture, and security. All opinions are his own.
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