Letter from Rabbi Egolf 4/14/2016

Rabbi Jim EgolfAs we approach Passover I reflect on the work I do both in TBS and in the hospital. When we start to tell the story of Passover I often have images of beautifully set tables with the best china being used to celebrate the holiday. Yet, I wonder if those who experienced the first Passover would think.

Starting their journey there must have been terror and fear. Some lunatic named Moses had started a fight with the Pharaoh, i.e. the most powerful man and they were probably not very interested in getting involved. As they sat and ate the first Passover meal, they did so in humble and dark places. The lamb’s blood was still wet on the doorposts and they probably wondered, ‘how is this going to help us tonight, much less be the start of a journey towards freedom?!’ To see our celebration they might wonder if they had gotten the wrong house, that is, the house of an Egyptian.

It is hard to remember where we came from. We don’t want to remember that our journey begins in slavery, but it does. We don’t like it when we think that the first lamb eaten on a Passover probably smelt of burn roasting meat, but it was. And given how much effort we go to in order to hide where we come from, the journey and the end are only that much greater because of the humble beginnings of our Passover journey.

What would our ancestors think? Well after they recovered from the shock both in terms of finery and technology, I am sure they would look for ways to connect with us. Our struggle will always be to resist valuing our wealth and modern capabilities and remember that we too must connect with them. As it is taught, “It is incumbent that everyone see him/herself as if they personally came out of Egypt.” What is your Egypt that you come from and what is the promised land to where you go? This is what our Seder and Passover journeys are about.