By Mel Pearlman
Everywhere 

Time for all Americans to embrace the Passover story

 

March 26, 2021



As the sun sets tomorrow evening and the Sabbath wanes, Jewish people around the world will be welcoming in the holiday of Passover, with the holiday’s most notable event, the Passover Seder.

The Passover Seder is a family and community gathering characterized by a festive and elaborate meal, complete with symbolic foods, inserted into the middle of the re-telling of the story of our Exodus from Egypt.

The stage is set with the lighting of holiday candles accompanied by the prayer that reminds us of the Torah commandment that mandates our telling of the story of our liberation “in every generation as if we ourselves were delivered from slavery unto freedom.”

The drama of the moment is further enhanced by the singing of the Kiddush and blessing over the wine; and reaches a crescendo when the youngest of the children asks the four questions summarized as, “Why is this night different from all other nights?

The joyful, yet solemn response begins with the words, “We were slaves unto Pharoah in the land of Egypt …,” and continues with the participants reciting the story of our 400-year slavery and our liberation from that slavery by the very hand of God, exercising His enormous power over nature by inflicting 10 plagues on the Egyptians in convincing Pharoah to “Let my people go!”

After dinner, the story of our transformation from a tribal people into a nation founded on the precepts of Torah continues with our return to our indigenous home in the Land of Israel after 40 years of wandering in the desert.

For more than two millennia, since the forced exile of the Jewish people from the Land of Israel over two thousand years ago, the story of the Exodus from Egypt recited at seders throughout the world has ended with the inspiring and aspiring words of the Jewish people to be reunited and return to their biblical homeland with the simple prayer, “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

The uniqueness of the Passover story is that it must be told at several levels of sophistication so that everyone, whatever his or her status of life, level of intelligence, education, experience or maturity, can understand, feel and appreciate what it means to be free; and also the enormous responsibility that freedom requires of us to assure we “proclaim liberty throughout the land and to all the inhabitants thereof.”

The lessons of the Passover story has universal application and is particularly relevant to the preservation of our freedom and commitment to the U.S. Constitution; and crucial if we are to heal a bitterly divided America.

Our freedom will never be enhanced by suppressing the freedom of our fellow citizens. On the contrary, I think we can hold “this truth to be self evident” that expanding freedom and equality to all our citizens enhances freedom and equality for all our citizens.

Everyone’s freedom is threatened if we seek to restrict anyone else’s freedom. Our government was not created to dole out freedoms; the Constitution is not the source of our freedom; its mandate, as ordained by the American people, is “to secure the blessings of liberty,” not to grant those blessings.

The past year has been a difficult one for all Americans. While the Second Amendment, as intended by the founders, prohibits the government from abridging our right to bear arms, we are not compelled to always bear arms. How wonderful would it be if we put our arms away for the moment and used our human arms to embrace our fellow Americans!

Except for indigenous Native Americans, we must recognize that all other Americans trace their lineage to immigrants who came to our shores under many different circumstances and from the four corners of the Earth.

In every generation, it was these new Americans and those that preceded them and their progeny who bestowed the blessings of liberty on the new immigrants.

Now it is our time for all Americans to embrace the Passover story, to remove the last vestiges of slavery and to bestow the full blessings of liberty on all our citizens and on all those who lawfully reside within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States. Happy Passover to all!

If you wish to comment or respond you can reach me at melpearlman322@gmail.com. Please do so in a rational, thoughtful, respectful and civil manner.

Mel Pearlman holds B.S. & M.S. degrees in physics as well as a J.D. degree and initially came to Florida in 1966 to work on the Gemini and Apollo space programs. He has practiced law in Central Florida since 1972. He has served as president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando; was a charter board member, first vice president and pro-bono legal counsel of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida, as well as holding many other community leadership positions.

 

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