Thursday, March 14, 2013

#BlogExodus 3: Slavery

Rabbi Ed Feinstein tells a story about two men amongst the Israelites who left Egypt. They were accustomed to looking down at the ground, like good slaves do. 

When the Red Sea parted and the Jews walked through on dry land, one of these men asked the other what he saw. "Mud," was the reply. The two agreed. "What is all this freedom business?" they asked each other. "We had mud in Egypt. What's the difference?"

Then these same two men came to stand at Sinai with the rest of the people. They heard the words of the commandments and one asked the other what he heard. "Someone shouting commands," was the reply. The two agreed. "What's all this Torah business?" they asked each other. "We had commands in Egypt. What's the difference here?"

The same men continued to wander in the desert with the rest of the Israelites. As the time came to enter the Promised Land, one asked the other how he felt. "My feet hurt," was the reply. The two agreed. "What's all this Promised Land business?" they asked each other. "My feet hurt in Egypt, my feet hurt now. What's the difference here?"

And so they missed the miracle of the Sea, they missed the revelation at Sinai, they even missed the celebration of entering our own land. Some say that they went back to Egypt. Some say that they continue to wander around the desert and complain. 

And, Rabbi Feinstein concludes, some say that they are still among us -- "living right here and now, wandering about with their eyes cast down, missing all the miracles that are taking place around them all the time. They haven't any idea where they're going. And they continue to miss all the many chances to know what life is all about." (Story adapted from Capturing the Moon, by Rabbi Ed Feinstein, one of my favorite story books!)

Have you ever found yourself walking around in this kind of daze? Do we forget to notice the blessings in our lives? It wasn't enough just to free us from the physical bonds of slavery. There were and still are mental bonds from which we must free ourselves. Freedom is a gift that we sometimes take for granted, forgetting that with it comes the responsibility to not only appreciate it, but to revel in it. Passover comes along to remind us of it, and to remind us of our greater responsibility in the world. Yes, we celebrate freedom when others are not free. We do so in order to remind ourselves that freedom is worth having, worth celebrating, and worth fighting for on behalf of all peoples in the world. 

Other posts you might like:
Busy Being Busy
Musings on Mitzrayim 
Want to play along? We're sharing #BlogExodus for the next 2 weeks. All you have to do is use the hashtag and there are suggested prompts on the graphic above (feel free to grab it). Maybe you just want to post on your Facebook or Twitter about these topics...or maybe you want to try #Exodusgram, a new idea to post photos related to these themes? I'll be posting my #blogExodus posts here, at this blog, my #Exodusgram pictures on my tumblr site,, and other miscellaneous Passover posts over at It's going to be a busy fortnight!

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