Passover – The Night Our Creator Was On The Watch

The upcoming holiday of Passover is a time to reflect on our lives, our strengths, our freedom and more. Jewish people all over the world will celebrate their heroic escape from being slaves to the wicked king, Pharaoh. The night before Passover, The Almighty was on the watch, protecting the Israelites and made sure that every single one of them escaped Egypt safely. Our Creator had performed many miracles for the Israelites, including the splitting of the sea and the ten plagues, but was the lesson learned?
Many of us who read Alex Haley’s book Roots, or even watched the mini-series, saw a glimpse of what slavery was like. Roots portrays the story of Kunta Kinte who was kidnapped from Gambia, Africa. Kunta was stripped of his freedom and brought into North America where he was sold as a slave. Haley lucidly describes slavery. His writing touched people of all colors, religion or economic status. Slavery was wrong in Egypt and was equally wrong in North America or anywhere else in the world for this matter. Did anyone ever learn to work together and fight to abolish inequality between people? Yes! Look no further than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, may their souls rest in peace.
It was January 14, 1963, in Chicago, Illinois. Rabbi Heschel delivered a powerful speech with a clear message. The speech dealt with religion and race. It was a moving and motivating speech, both condemning and comparing the slavery of the Israelites in ancient Egypt and the slavery and racism toward the African Americans. Dr. King was impressed by the speech and the two became friends. Dr. King made his famous, “I have a dream speech”, on August 28, 1963. With a tremendous crowd, believers and supporters, his dream came true but not without struggles. To this day, we are still struggling to perfect his dream. It took plagues for Pharoah to let the Israelites go and it took a civil war to free the African Americans from slavery. Yet, we are strong as we unite to combat this evil, and we will succeed.
On March 21, 1965, Selma, Alabama and the rest of the world watched and saw an unprecedented march. People of all colors and religions marched together. Rabbi Heschel was there, in the now famous march. G-D was there in the smallest details as well: a Torah, The Five Books of Moses, was dearly and carefully held in support of the marchers. This was a powerful message. If we want a better world, we must unite. Equality is not just another word in the dictionary, we must strive to implement it every day, hour or minute of our lives.
One of the commandments of Passover is that every Jewish person should see himself as he himself was just freed from Egypt. This year, I invite us all to see ourselves as we survived slavery, just as Alex Haley did in a brilliant way. The Divine Providence will continue watching over us, His children. Our appearance does not make The Omnipresent love us more or less, in His eyes we are all equal.
Alex Haley, Dr. Marting Luther King and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel might have departed from us physically, yet they are with us through their legacy. This Passover let’s keep their memory and legacy alive. While asking the four traditional Passover questions, look into yourself and ask some more questions. Did I do my utmost to build bridges between people? Can I do better? Am I active enough in my community? Feel FREE to add questions, after all this holiday we celebrate FREEDOM!
Happy Passover,
Rabbi Moshe P. Weisblum, PhD

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