Passover Reflections


By Yoram Ettinger

1. THOMAS JEFFERSON’s PROPOSAL FOR THE DESIGN OF THE OFFICIAL SEAL OF THE UNITED STATES FEATURED THE EXODUS FROM EGYPT: The parting of the sea, with Pharaoh’s chariots in pursuit and the motto "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God." Jefferson considered Americans as the modern day Hebrews fleeing State controlled religion of 1600s England, and America as the modern day Promised Land. Just like many other Founding Fathers, Jefferson followed John Lock’s appreciation of the Old Testament (Lock read Hebrew!), as a key legal guideline for democratic societies. In fact, many colonists expressed their high regard for Judaism by teaching Hebrew (e.g. Harvard).

2. THE ROAD MAP OF THE EXODUS – as known to Lock, Jefferson, George W. Bush and other students of the Old Testament – had a very distinct geographic strategy. The Mosaic Road Map did not focus on the Tel Aviv-Netanya-Haifa strip (which has been negligibly relevant to Jewish and human history). The Mosaic Road Map focused on the Hebron-Jerusalem-Nablus strip, which has been the CRADLE OF HISTORY of the Jewish State and of Judeo-Christian Values. No nation has ever contemplated trading off its own Cradle of History for peace;! No nation can survive – in the long run – while giving away its own Cradle of History!

3. THE EXODUS HAS INSPIRED OPTIMISM, PERSEVERANCE & THE SPRING OF NATIONS. It has been a role/moral model for liberated societies. Jewish sages indicate that the term Spring is mentioned three times in the Torah, in reference to the Exodus from Egypt. Spring (which stands for liberty and the blossoming of nature) follows winter (which stands for enslavement). Winter cannot eradicate the prosperity of nature; it can only delay it. However, once spring goes through the "strait" of the winter season, nature explodes in exciting creations (A derivative of the Hebrew name of Egypt, "Mitzrayim," is Metzar, which is "strait" in Hebrew). Thus, individuals and nations should never lose hope during depressed periods (Terrorism? NASDAQ?). They should always keep their chin up, sticking to their FAITH, PRINCIPLES and STRATEGIC ASPIRATIONS (rather than short-term tactical maneuvers), getting ready for improved fortunes.

4. PASSOVER IS CELEBRATED DURING THE JEWISH MONTH OF NISSAN, which is the month of LIBERATION and MIRACLES (the root of the word Nissan is Ness, which means "miracle" in English). It follows the month of ADAR, commemorating Jewish liberation from Haman and his Sons. President George W. Bush’s war on Iraq was launched in Adar (Haman & Sons) and concluded in Nissan (Saddam & Sons).

5. PASSOVER IS THE FIRST PILGRIMAGE, chronologically (according to the Jewish calendar, which starts in Nissan!), and the basis for the other two pilgrimages, Shavouot (Pentecost) and Soukkot (Tabernacles). The Exodus was the prelude to receiving the TEN COMMANDMENTS (Shavouot). The first stop in the desert was in an oasis named Soukkota.

6. THE COMMEMORATION OF PASSOVER IS ONE OF THE 613 JEWISH COMMANDMENTS (Historical memory has been central to Jewish survival). A reference to the Exodus is made 50 times in the Torah (equal to 50 measurements of wisdom, Shaarei Binah in Hebrew), a few times during daily prayers, during the welcoming of the Sabbath, on holidays, upon the circumcision of sons, in the Mezuzah (at the doorsteps of a Jewish home), etc.

7. SHARING THE EXODUS EXPERIENCE WITH CHILDREN has been a central element of Passover, amplifying the CENTRALITY OF THE FAMILY, as the key factor in the preservation of free societies. According to Jewish sages, each person must consider himself/herself as if he/she was just liberated from EGYPTIAN (MORAL) BONDAGE. In fact, the Torah explicitly commands Jewish Kings to refrain from accruing women, horses, silver/gold and from returning to Egypt (morally speaking).

8. FOUR GLASSES OF WINE (per person) CONSTITUTE AN INTEGRAL ELEMENT OF THE SEDER. They stand for the FOUR matriarchs; FOUR hundred years of enslavement per God’s covenant with Abraham; the FOURTH Hebrew letter, Dalet, which is synonym with God; FOUR manners of deliverance prescribed in the Torah; FOUR flags carried during the Exodus; FOUR glasses of condolences; FOUR strings of the traditional Jewish Talit; FOUR seasons; FOUR directions (unity); FOUR basic elements (fire, wind, water and soil); FOUR levels of the stones of the High Priest; etc.

9. THE FOUR SONS also star during the Seder. They stand for family unity, regardless of one’s faults. Jewish tradition provides a chance to those with a positive potential. Could one suggest that the WISE son is the USA?! Is the WICKED son the UN, France, Germany, Belgium, Russia and other nations which – just like the wicked son in the Seder – have excluded themselves from the moral obligation to do right?! Is the NAIVE son Canada and other free societies, which do not comprehend the threat of global terrorism?! Is the IGNORANT son Egypt and most Arab countries, which should have behaved and known better, but have been shocked by the US performance, and cannot ask any intelligent question?! The tale of Four Sons does not pertain to Iraq, Iran, Syria and other members of the Axis of Evil.