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Pesakh, which commemorates the central event of our Jewish historical consciousness, is simultaneously highly particularistic and highly universal. We celebrate our own liberty, our own redemption from slavery. Our national mythology — to whatever extent is historically accurate — treats the exodus from Egypt as our central event, the reason for many of the other elements of the culture. The exodus appears everywhere in our literature and in the religious prayers. It is a particularly Jewish holiday.


On the other hand, if the exodus is to have meaning for us as anything but a really big IOU to the god who rescued our ancestors, it must be universalized. The lesson needs to be that we discover from our slavery not that it is bad for us to be enslaved, but that it is bad for anyone to be enslaved. Just as a person grows from dependent child to independent adult, a people can grow from the liberated to the liberator. Our responsibility to speak for those who are still enslaved and oppressed grows from our own knowledge of slavery and oppression. If we do not speak out, we have dishonored our heritage and the central event of our national history.

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