Passover—The Spirit of Freedom
By George Kalmar
“Give me liberty or give me death!” Human beings seem to cherish the idea of being both physically and spiritually free. They will often fight to their deaths rather than live a life of slavery or servitude. In Jewish thought, the concept of freedom occupies a lofty seat among both religious and secular thinkers. A number of holidays celebrate freedom, but none more succinctly than Passover. It is not difficult to interpret the Passover story as God’s vengeful way to free his people from slavery. The story is one of a Pharaoh refusing to allow the Hebrews to leave their lives of slavery in Egypt. Moses warns the Pharaoh of terrible consequences unless he relents and “lets his people go.” But the Pharaoh is stubborn and will not let the Hebrews go. God then instructs the Hebrews to paint their door-posts with the blood of a lamb so that their houses can be “passed-over” as the angel of death inflicts the horror of killing all the first-born males in Egyptian homes. This is after a number of other plagues inflicted by God upon the Egyptians, such as locusts swarming from the sky, rivers turning to blood and so on. Pharaoh finally allows the Hebrews to go, but he later changes his mind, intent on slaughtering them all. Here follows God’s famous end-game when he opens a pathway in the middle of the sea for safe passage for the Hebrews, but then crashes the waves upon the Egyptians, drowning their entire army.
God 1-Egyptians 0!
Passover Modern Service
Fri, Apr 22, 6pm
Imperio de Ángeles Hotel
Just past the turn to Los Frailes
Passover Traditional Service
Sat, Apr 23, 7pm
La Frontera Restaurant
At the end of Stirling Dickinson,
back of the little mall
Reservations are necessary
Please call 415 185 9191
or see: www.shalomsanmiguel.org
This story is not so much about violence as it is about the price one pays for enslaving others and the exhilaration of reaching freedom after a long and painful struggle. As such, it is a template for all liberation movements and a lesson to all of today’s Pharaohs who subjugate or occupy others.
In our city of San Miguel, two Passover celebrations will take place. The more modern service will be on April 22 at 6pm at the Imperio de los Ángeles Hotel, and the second, more traditional, service will be at the La Frontera Restaurant on April 23 at 7pm.
What will we be celebrating? Yes, the freedom of the Hebrews liberated from slavery by God’s “mighty hand” thousands of years ago; but also we hope to be inspired to revisit the “slaveries” of today whether it be the continuing racism and prejudice still in the hearts of many, or the lack of so many nations to honor the dreams of freedom of people they still occupy or degrade in some way.
Passover, like many other traditional holidays, has its share of revolting and bloody images. But its lessons are designed to awaken within in us a kind of personal “violence of conscience” that spurs us on to defeat our own inner Pharaoh that keeps us from leading a generous and compassionate life. Please join us if you wish at one of the observances for this holiday.