Thirty days before Pesach we must be asking…

Since October 7th, our world has become mayhem in so many ways. There probably isn’t anyone among our people and beyond who has not yet, “stepped up to the plate” in an array of practices. We have cried and prayed. We have shopped and cooked. We have  collected and packed. We have organized and volunteered. We have flown back n fourth speaking, appealing, packing and delivering. We have driven to so many destinations with overflowing cars of goods to distribute. We have turned out en masee to funerals and shivas. We have written letters and signed petitions. We have circulated articles and videos. We have become a nation with a common goal of uprooting and ridding the evil Hamas and  getting the hostages released. A slogan was formed: “Bring Them Home Now”. Everyone seemingly has had their hearts in the right place, but our hearts are all broken for so many reasons during this calamitous continuance. As of day 173 our existence continues accordingly.

As Jews usually do, even during these past 173 days, we keep going from sadness to joyous occasions. We are going from Funerals to weddings and shivas, even in the same day. Our cycle of life weighs heavy on us all.

From the initial outbreak of this war-we couldn’t afford logical reactions and any sort of planning. The aforementioned activities came from the shock and pain that we all felt and the bleeding need to help immediately in any way possible. And so we flooded streets, phonelines, airports, WhatsApp groups and more to help our beloved soldiers, bereaved and displaced  families, and overwhelmed businesses, from South to North, to volunteer in places that we could in any ways possible. We have opened our homes in various capacities.  In so many instances we have overdone the donating and the volunteering. but our overflooding hearts go on and with logistic assistance being put into the proper channels, more direct and necessary needs have been addressed.

And as so many of us have been driving with slogans on our cars, flags on our properties, ribbons and pins from our clothing,  necklaces dangling from our necks-there is one slogan which we need to be asking and most probably altering.

“Bing Then Home Now”-has been shouted from the heart and cried out from the pain within. But as we have had time to calm down a bit, rationalize, reason and regroup, as we prep 30 days before the Nationwide Holiday of Pesach, cleaning thoroughly and ridding the chametz, there seems to be a need to clean up the initial Slogan of “Bring Them Home Now.”

In 3 weeks our nation will sit for the Pesach Seder which is a night of remembrance and symbolism. It is a night of narrative and especially a night of questions. The Narrative is there to get the children to ask questions and then the adults to answer those questions with a way for the families and their guests to learn experientially, thereby reliving an incredible historical experience together.
But those questions do have answers and many of those questions have even multiple answers and interpretations that can and will speak to the eclectic people that we have become. There is a common experience though, that is  described in the Torah as the Jewish People were ushered out of Egypt. That is, after the last plague that was  havocked upon the Egyptians by Hashem above: The Torah States:  וַתְּהִי צְעָקָה גְדֹלָה בְּמִצְרָיִם עריכה · כִּי אֵין בַּיִת אֲשֶׁר אֵין שָׁם מֵת: ./And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there is no house where there is not a dead man.

When telling the horrific narrative behind the slogan of Bring Them Home Now, we are faced with unanswerable questions and choiceless choices such as:
1. How many murderers should be set free for how many beloved innocent hostages?

2. How many of our soldiers should die in the place of those whom they attempt to rescue?

3. Does Now mean immediately without any proper preparations at any cost, which goes back to the aforementioned questions?

These are horrific questions the like of which our ancestors had to deal with and in many instances make those decisions during our history of holocausts, programs and crusades, a history soaked in blood from all four corners of the earth.
Moses our leader during the First Jewish Holocaust in history used his slogan repeatedly of “Let My People go”. There certainly was a narrative and many questions asked, where faith was crucial  in a time of unprecedent open miracles. Most Sadly, as we don’t have a figure like Moses to be our leader albeit it we so desperately need, during these last weeks leading up to our experiencing and celebrating the exodus from Egypt, we must unify together with tantamount  faith, like that of  our ancestors who did indeed experience the exodus. Our sages have taught us as we celebrate the holiday of Pesach,

חַיָּב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת עַצְמוֹ כְּאִילּוּ הוּא יָצָא מִמִּצְרָיִם/Man has to see himself as if he had come out of Egypt

We are finding ourselves in that  same place of havoc whether physically, emotionally or psychologically as we in the nation of Israel are all connected: כִּי אֵין בַּיִת אֲשֶׁר אֵין שָׁם מֵת/for there is no house where there is not a dead man

And so in this perilous time, we need to be a nation with Moses like strength, faith and integrity. We must learn from  the lead of Moses, alter the original slogan and shout out to the world “Let Our People Go”!

About the Author
Phyllis Hecht is living in Chashmonaim with her family since their Aliyah- in 2002 from Queens, NY. She is a Judaic studies teacher with an MA in Judaic studies specializing in Holocaust studies. Phyllis has a Teudat Horaah in teaching English and a license in special education reading recovery. She is also a licensed debating teacher. She has taught business English in Israel and abroad and has taught Holocaust and Judaic studies classes in Israel. Phyllis is currently a High school English teacher and Debating coach at the Zeitlin High school in Tel Aviv.
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