The Passover story tells of our liberation from Egypt through great drama and public miracles.
But the story of the Passover story is far more remarkable. It’s the eternal Jewish story of suffering and liberation. It’s not the story of who we were. It’s the story of who we are.
And Israel isn’t the only nation moved by it.
In America’s Prophet, Bruce Feiler shows how Moses inspired Americans for centuries, from the original colonists seeking religious freedom, to the founders fighting for independence, to the abolitionists fighting for freedom from slavery, to the civil rights leaders fighting for equal rights.
Feiler is sensitive to family stories. He wrote a great New York Times review of Dr. Marshall Duke’s insights into family narratives.
“If you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come.”
Shameless plug: Feiler’s review inspired If You Write My Story, my children’s book facilitating the telling of the family narrative.
Many Jewish children’s formative childhood memories include seder nights with their parents and grandparents, siblings and cousins, learning — and joining — the story of the Jewish family.
The key to a successful family narrative, Dr. Marshall argues, is that it be filled with struggles and rebounds. Sounds a lot like Seder night.
At the seder, we join Jews not only in Egypt, but before and after. On Passover, Sarah was redeemed from childlessness. On Passover, Esther’s bold heroism interrupted Ahasuerus’ sleep. On Passover, we were saved. And on Passover, we will be saved again.
The Passover story prepared us for all the wonders and the horrors to come.
Only a nation that believes it’s in the Passover story could brush itself off after the Nazis, and resume our great national journey.
We brushed ourselves off after the Nazis and resumed our national story because brushing ourselves off IS our national story.
People often wonder why the central text of the Hagaddah is not directly about the Exodus. Rather, it’s the Bikurim text, where the Israeli farmer brings his first fruits to the Jerusalem Temple and thanks God for our salvation and for all of His blessings.
That’s because Seder night isn’t about the Jews in Egypt. It’s about those of us moved by their story.
May we play great positive roles in our heroic national story.