Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Haggadah shows us enslavement: we are enslaved

In a few hours, the end of Passover will begin. This year in Israel, that end is just one day, tomorrow, Monday, April 1, 2013. In America and elsewhere, that end takes two days, Monday and Tuesday.

Celebrations in Israel are so much easier.

Still, as we think about the last day(s), let’s rethink our first day: what's the Passover Haggadah about? Is it just a story-book, or is it something else?
It could be something else-- a guide designed to teach us about freedom and safety.

If there’s one thing most Israelis want, it’s to be free and safe. In today’s world, however, that’s exactly what Israel does not have. Passover brings good news: our Haggadah shows us the secret to freedom and security.
Did you know that?
The Haggadah is not just about Egypt and Jews. It’s about G-d. That's the secret--but it's one that doesn’t sit well with some people. These people  don’t like reading about G-d. In fact, they don’t like G-d.
That’s too bad, because according to a new Haggadah, (prepared by Rabbi Yosef Zvi Rimon ,The Shirat Miriam Haggadah, trans. Rabbi Dr Shmuel Himmelstein, published by Mosad Harav Kook and Halacha Education Center, Jerusalem, 2012), the Haggadah is not only about Jews, slavery and freedom. It’s about G-d’s role in our life. More precisely, the obligation at our Seder is not just to tell and remember what happened, but to thank G-d for it (ibid, p130, quoting Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik)--and to remember that the road to our freedom depends upon our connecting to our G-d (ibid, 142-149). It’s right there in front of us: because we committed to the G-d of Israel by displaying the courage to slaughter an Egyptian god (a sheep), G-d redeemed us to our freedom and our destiny.
It’s a formula: when we as a people commit to Him; He commits to us. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.
Anti-Jewish Jews reject this. They lack the courage to commit. They choose to depend on Man or, more precisely, non-Jews. The irony is, the anti-Jewish Jew is the one most frustrated about Israel’s lack of freedom and safety.  He wants that safety. He demands it. But because he rejects G-d he is frustrated. He doesn’t feel free. He doesn’t feel safe. He doesn’t feel joy. Instead, he feels shame.
In the Shirat Miriam Haggadah (ibid, p. 144), we see shame in the Passover story.  This ancient shame is the shame of our modern anti-Jewish Jew. It is the shame of enslavement, one that brings bitterness. That bitterness is a bitter herb that comes from being constrained and then hated by those who enslave you.
A slave, you feel shame. You become bitter.
The anti-Jewish Jew, we realize when we read the Haggadah in this way, is indeed a slave to all that is non-Jewish-- its philosophy, culture and beliefs. To commit to such a foreign world-view is to step into an enslavement one cannot get away from. It is a psychic, toxic Velcro; that which hates you clings to you until its breath becomes your breath.
Those who are religious and pro-Israel experience a bitterness and a bread of affliction once a year, at the Passover Seder, while celebrating our story of slavery-to-freedom. But for the anti-Jewish Jew, there is bitterness and affliction every day.
It is the bitterness of slavery.
How enslaved are such people? They worship the not-Jewish. They cringe with fear when the non-Jew denounces Israel. They assist the non-Jew to act against Jews; and to earn non-Jewish approval, they will even tax Jews to support those who hate Jews.
For example, this past week, in the middle of our Passover holiday, anti-Jewish Jews announced that Israel will release to the Palestinian Authority (PA) taxes collected by Israel from 80,000 Arabs who work in Israel. That’s fine. This regular transfer of funds is a courtesy one nation extends to another, especially when citizens of one place work in another place.  It is how one expects nations to behave if they live in peace. The problem is, part of the monies to be released include dollars Israel had discussed withholding in 2012 to settle a 730-million NIS (Israel Shekel) debt the PA will not pay.
You see, Israel provides electricity to the PA. This is a business arrangement: electric power in exchange for an agreed-upon payment. Without Israel, the PA has no electric power. It cannot sustain itself. So it contracts with Israel for its electricity, except for one thing: the PA refuses to pay for what it receives. Last year, Israel announced that it would, in essence, garnish the tax transfers in order to satisfy the debt. Anti-Jewish Jews, however, have decided--on Passover no less--that Israel will allow the PA debt to remain uncollected.
Almost immediately, Jews in Israel found out what this decision meant:  the Israel Electric Company announced, also during Passover, that they now will have to raise their rates for everyone (mostly Jews) by 3% for (perhaps) a year in order to recoup financial losses incurred by this non-payment—this, on top of an average twenty per cent increase already imposed on consumers in the last year. Essentially, this amounts to a tax imposed on Jews to support those who hate Jews so much they refuse to honour even basic agreements.
The Haggadah teaches us that those who worship others lose their future, and those who make themselves subservient to their enemies lose their freedom. The anti-Jewish Jew teaches us that the Haggadah is correct.

So it is that anti-Jewish Jews enslave us. So it is that Israel does not enjoy safety or freedom.
Perhaps certain Jews should re-read their Haggadah.



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