“So that you remember the day you came out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life” (Deut 16:3). Every day we are commanded to remember this seminal event in Jewish history.
Our exodus from Egypt and journey from slavery to freedom and birth of the Jewish nation culminated 50 days later as we stood at Mt. Sinai and received the Torah. All Jews, past, present and future, heard G-d speak to the Jewish nation of over 2 million people. This mass revelation, an unprecedented event in world history, has never been claimed by any other religion or people.
G-d spoke to all of us but did not identify as the One who created heaven and earth, instead reminding us that “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” This emphasizes that He is a personal G-d, intimately involved in all our affairs at all times.
Two other lessons are worth sharing. Both matzah and leavened bread are made of flour and water. One is permitted while the other is forbidden. The permitted is the humble “bread of affliction,” or poor man’s bread, while the dough of the forbidden ferments and rises, puffed up full of pride, arrogance and ego.
Egypt, or Mitzraim in Hebrew, shares a linguistic root with the word metzarim, or limitations. In the holy tongue, there are no coincidences.
The haggadah says that in every generation we must see ourselves as if we are departing from Egypt. Like matzah, we must flatten our egos in order to break out of our own personal Mitzraim and limitations. Only then can we properly receive the Torah and G-d’s bountiful blessings!
Wishing a Zissen V’Kasher Pesach! May we all merit to celebrate “next year in Yerushalayim,” Ir HaKodesh, the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish people!
Mitchell Kaye is a former state representative, a husband, father and grandfather.