Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Little Bit Of Passover Reading


Passover is a time when we reflect on the Exodus from Egypt and the struggle for freedom that has colored our character and influenced our faith and world view. However, when thinking about this, I can’t help but feel that the struggle has been forgotten and is only considered a part of our tradition, a story that does not go beyond the pages of the Torah. When reading Exodus, I came across the following sentence that made me stop and really put some long thought in the meaning behind the words:

“If, while breaking in, the thief is discovered, and he is struck and dies, [it is as if] he has no blood.” – Exodus 22:1

I read this as meaning that G-d will defend the actions of man when that man is just in his actions. Not satisfied with my own view, I went digging a little further I looked into the interpretation found in the Talmud. Rashi, considered the greatest commentator on the Tanach (for those of you unfamiliar with the term is the original, Jewish name for the 24 books of the Bible) considered the millennia of interpretation and produced the following commentary:

"He has no blood. [This signifies that] this is not [considered] murder. It is as though he [the thief] is [considered] dead from the start. Here the Torah teaches you: If someone comes to kill you, kill him first. And this one [the thief] has come to kill you, because he knows that a person will not hold himself back and remain silent when he sees people taking his money. Therefore, he [the thief] has come with the acknowledgement that if the owner of the property were to stand up against him, he [thief] would kill him [the owner]. - Talmud Sanhedrin. 72a"

The reason for expounding upon this sentence is quite simple. The Pharaoh, while not in the literal sense as the aforementioned thief, was depriving the Israelites of life. By keeping them enslaved and reliant upon him to provide them with their basic needs, he was stripping them of their freedom and leaving them, for the most part, powerless. It was not until they found the strength in G-d and from G-d to fight this tyrant that they were able to break their chains and become, once again, a free people.

While G-d clearly lent a hand in this endeavor, we must not forget that we are to be a reliant people granted with the innate ability to defend and protect ourselves as well as our fellow man. For when men strip us of our ability to stand up and fight for ourselves, do we once again find ourselves as helpless as a slave in Egypt. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to G-d to never again allow that to happen and so we must embrace our inalienable right to keep and bear arms.

We cannot become overly reliant on a government promising to provide us with our basic needs. We must be self-reliant and ready to work for what we want, fight for what we need, and defend the freedom that we have. In the end, while G-d undoubtedly lent a hand, the exodus required the actions of man. Moses was the one who led his people out of Egypt. Passover is a time to embrace the fact that we can still hold fast to our faith while at the same time fighting for our rights, our freedom, and our life.