Tonight begins the Jewish festival of Passover when we remember the Israelites exodus from the land of Egypt. I’ve tried every way I know to write something about Passover that comes anywhere close to a unique insight. The truth is that the minutiae surrounding the holiday leave me cold. The festival speaks for itself. We are commanded to celebrate freedom and virulently denounce slavery in any of its vile forms, whether it’s the rape of children by Boko Haram or police practices that brutalize the most unprotected segments of our society.
The best I could come up with is a story about Rabbi Meir, a revered sage who lived during the Roman occupation of Judea. Rabbi Meir was appalled by the behavior of some of his fellow citizens who diligently observed every miniscule rule related to the holiday of Pesach (Passover) but who treated the poor and needy with contempt. According to Rabbi Meir, spending endless hours searching for the last vestiges of chametz (leaven) while missing the important message of caring for the less privileged is not only missing the point, it’s a sin cloaked in deceptive garb.
This Passover, train yourself to hear the cries of the poor and needy. Liberation from slavery can come only when we care for our sick, our poor, our elderly and bring them out of Egypt with us.