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Pesach All Year: Unexpected Mitzvot of Remembering Egypt
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Fifteen Nisan It doesn’t take much education to know Jews are supposed to remember the Exodus—we have the holiday of Pesach, which includes specific obligations to remind us of the events, such as telling the story at length Seder night, and avoiding leavened bread and eating matzah for seven days. Shabbat and the other major […]
Putting Ourselves Into the Haggadah
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Fourteen Nisan Tonight’s the night. All the work we’ve done these past two weeks will be put to the test, to see if we indeed walk away feeling more like we ourselves left Egypt. As one last piece, allow me to share some of the insights my father shared at his Seder, insights I find […]
Par’oh Takes Himself to His Doom
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Thirteen Nisan Caricaturing Par’oh is the lazy way out. It lets us see him as acting in ways we never would, which makes him not worthy of our time. Except that the Torah found him worthy of its time, suggesting he bears a closer look. Doing so, we find that two of his prominent flaws […]
The Egyptians Could Have Done Better
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Twelve Nisan The Torah makes Par’oh the foil to Moshe and Aharon, mentioning the Egyptian people only infrequently. This can give the impression that they were pawns of their evil king, suffering for something beyond their control. Ramban and others—who lived under monarchs, so that we’d have expected them to see how impossible it is […]
Failures On the Eve of Exodus and Its Aftermath
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Eleven Nisan What does it take to change a mindset? Commentators’ readings of Shmot confront us with this question, because they saw the Jews as clinging to their connection to Egypt and the Egyptians, to their old ways of looking at the world, displaying a remarkable immunity to learning from what they are seeing. I […]
Dragging Down the Redemption
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Ten Nisan The distance of history reassures us that as we list the failures of the generation that left Egypt, we will not be seen to be judging them or pretending any confidence we would have done better. We enumerate where they went wrong to teach ourselves how to avoid repeating the past, to make […]