4 Sons & Sons

A discussion of Pesah/Passover generally and the Hagadah specifically. Please comment and contribute!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Bah, Humbug! II

Ok, just a little more pessimism and I promise I'll be cheery by the time Hanukkah actually rolls around. Here are two more areas in which Pesach is superior to Hanukkah: Our attitudes to other Jews and to our former enemies.

Pesach is about the Jewish people being united against a common foe, the Egyptians. Discounting the midrash about the Israelites who died during the plague of darkness, we all stood as one. What does the Torah tell us about the Egyptians?

לֹא-תְתַעֵב אֲדֹמִי, כִּי אָחִיךָ הוּא; לֹא-תְתַעֵב מִצְרִי, כִּי-גֵר הָיִיתָ בְאַרְצוֹ.
Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite, for he is thy brother; thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian, because thou wast a stranger in his land. (Devarim 23:8)

When it comes to Hanukah, we were the Makabis vs. the Hellenized Jews. Hanukah sermons and op-ed pieces usually make analogies between the past and our own time. Today's Jews, they say, are too close to their surrounding cultures. Reform, Conservative, Modern Orthodox usually get cast as the Hellenists. This tends to exacerbate the divisions between us rather than bring us together. Modern culture is cast as an extension of the Syrio-Greek enemy of the past.

If we are commanded not to hate our ancient enemy, the Egyptians, then kal ve-homer, we can learn to deal favorably with our fellow Jews as well as the culture surrounding us. This week's parashah featuring Yosef being sold into slavery by his brothers shows us how hatred can lead to ruin for all.

I'll be more cheerful next week, I promise! Shabat shalom.

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