Come out of the Egypt of the subjugated and out of the Egypt of the subjugators

Every year, the first night of the Passover Seder starts with the four questions generally formulated by children, who ask how this evening is different from other evenings. By reminding us of the singularity of this holiday which commemorates through the Haggada the exodus out of Egypt and the birth of a free people, these questions confront each of us about the meaning of the word freedom. Getting out of the house of slavery is not enough to reach freedom. Its is the reason why, according to the narrative, the Israelites had to remain 40 years in the desert in order to be able to get in the “ Promised Land “, long enough to lose the mentality of  a subjugated people, in order to receive and to appropriate the Law, since there is no freedom without law.

Generation after generation, this renewal of the question faces each of us with his own individual and collective identity built around a text and its commandments, which are the root of ethics. Let us remind that the following sentence appears 34 times in the Torah: “So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10-19)

It is a good thing to mention again this moral principle, at a time when so many people and countries choose to close the door to foreigners and refugees.

 

But this year The Seder night will have a special meaning. 2017 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Six Day War which was—let us not forget it—a war of defense for Israel, but also the beginning of the occupation of Palestinian territories, an apparently endless occupation. But according to the Jewish tradition, the fiftieth year is the year of freedom.  The Leviticus says (25-8:13): “Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you“  Time has come to put an end to this situation, and to allow these two peoples to know peace and freedom.

To mark this anniversary, a special Haggada has been composed. To the traditional text have been added pieces written by Jewish personalities, mostly Israeli and American, expressing the moral contradiction between this holiday symbolizing the liberation of the Jewish people, and the Israeli domination of a people deprived of its national rights.

You may also get the English version of this Haggada, edited by Tomer Persico and illustrated by Michal Sahar, a famous Israeli graphist, by logging on http://nif.org/sisohaggadah,

and, for Hebrew scholars on: https://www.siso.org.il/sisohaggadah

This week of Pessah, Seders will be organized in many Israeli and Diaspora cities, during which will be read excerpts of that Haggada. JCall joined in the organization of these evenings, open first and foremost to the members of our association, who have been informed in due course to be able to join us. It will be the case in Paris on April 11th, and in Geneva on April 12th.

We chose two excerpts from the texts written especially for this Haggada of the Jubilee:

One by Eva Illouz, Professor of sociology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Director of Studies in Ehess, in Paris:

But this text has another peculiarity: it is not only a story. It wants to be the reenactment of a living memory. Why commemorate at all? Why not simply celebrate freedom? This is because freedom can bring with it the forgetfulness of bondage. Freedom can make one smug. Freedom is so fundamental that once free, we can easily forget what it is to be unfree, what it is like to be arrested at checkpoints, to see one’s land grabbed and confiscated, to see courts always side with the strong rather than with the just, to be denied the permit to work or travel. Yes, freedom can bring smugness and forgetfulness. To remember the immense gift God gave the Israelites is to remember that we must never become pyramid-builders, obsessed with our own power, unable to heed the cries and whispers of suffering of the people living in our midst.

 

And one by Daniel Bar-Tal, Professor Emeritus at the School of Education, Tel Aviv University, and the Founder and Chair of the board of SISO:

 

The subjugators are subjugated no less than their slaves. The subjugation of another people is also self-subjugation. A long period of subjugating others is liable to lead to the most terrible of all, the striking down of the first-born, the fall of an entire generation. “In every single generation one must see oneself as though one has come out of Egypt”: We must come out of the Egypt of the subjugated and out of the Egypt of the subjugators. We must rescue our others and ourselves. We must liberate and thus be liberated. We must cry out to the pharaoh within us: Let my peoples go!

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