Man, the things you find just before sunset on Fridays.
Israel to pay for 10 Plagues?”
Ahmad al-Gamal, an Egyptian columnist for Egyptian daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabi, advocated in the newspaper on March 11 that Egypt sue the State of Israel for damages caused by the 10 Biblical plagues,
“We want compensation for the plagues that were inflicted upon [us] as a result of the curses that the Jews’ ancient forefathers [cast] upon our ancient forefathers, who did not deserve to pay for the mistake that Egypt’s ruler at the time, Pharaoh, committed,” the cranky journalist wrote, according to a translation provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
Wait… Wouldn’t the statute of limitations have run out at least a couple thousand years ago?
Is there a liability exception for acts of G-d?
And how does modern Egypt have standing to sue for something that happened to Ancient Egypt? There’ve been a few changes in populations and governments since then.
“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
פסח Pesach 2017 has concluded. I hope everyone’s was blessed. I learn things every year, and this year I did some deep reflecting and thinking, just sort of processing some of the things I read.
While I realize my life, and our lives in America today, have little if anything in common with the Israelites held captive in Egypt all those years ago, in the Haggadah, it says “In every generation each individual is bound to regard himself as if he personally had gone forth from Egypt”. Hmm, I’ve never been to Egypt, and I have no desire to go there now. But I have watched The Mummy movies several times. Even the old black and white one. But that’s not what it means. Turns out, we all have our own Egypt, Pharaoh and Moshe.
In each one of us there is an Egypt and a Pharaoh and a Moses and Freedom in a Promised Land. And every point in time is an opportunity for another Exodus.
Egypt is a place that chains you to who you are, constraining you from growth and change. And Pharaoh is that voice inside that mocks your gambit to escape, saying, “How could you attempt being today something you were not yesterday? Aren’t you good enough just as you are? Don’t you know who you are?”
Moses is the liberator, the infinite force deep within, an impetuous and all-powerful drive to break out from any bondage, to always transcend, to connect with that which has no bounds.
I wonder, how many of us are in chains of one sort or another? Work situations, relationship situations, health situations, financial situations? There are no limits to the things that can bind us. I might take a minute to mention that former Congressman Bob McEwen points out that when you look at the effect of taxes, working and not being allowed to keep the fruit of your labor is slavery. For those fans of Hillary and Bernie.
How could I make such a statement in the middle of talking about Pesach? Well, because Rabbi Tsvi says
Tell it in first person, in the now. Don’t say, “Long ago, the ancient Hebrews…” Say, “When we were slaves in Egypt, the perverse socio-bureaucratic system thoroughly crushed every individual’s sense of self-worth!” Everything that happened there parallels something in each of our lives. We are truly living it now. We are simply examining our own lives in the dress of ancient Egypt.
See? It’s relevant!
There is a point during the Seder where the youngest child present asks four questions. Hmm, would this present a problem? Cowgirl kitty refused to ask the right questions. No problem, Rabbi had the answer.
No children? Let an adult ask. There’s just you? You be the child, and G‑d will be the father. While you’re at it, ask Him a few other difficult questions for us all.
Oh, I’m good with this! I’m so good with this! What’s more? We’re not limited to four!
Part of the Seder is eating Matzah. My Kosher for Pesach Matzah came from Israel. I’ve been eating Matzah since last Monday night, the 10th. This is a mitzvah, a commandment. Yep, until there is another Holy Temple, this is the only mitzvah we can eat. And according to Rabbi, this is an incredibly powerful thing. An amazing thing. Matzah has been called the bread of faith or Emunah.
Emunah is when you touch that place where your soul and the essence of the Infinite Light are one. It’s a point that nothing can describe. Where there are no words, no doubts, no uncertainty, no confusion—nothing else but a magnificent oneness before which all the challenges of life vanish like a puff of vapor.
I should have ordered like a gazillion cartons (5 boxes to a carton) of this!
We too began buried in Egypt, all but losing our identity. But that furnace of oppression became for us a firing kiln, a baker’s oven, the womb from whence we were born in the month of spring. In our liberation from there, we brought our fruits of freedom to the world.
Miracles happen when Divine energy from beyond the cosmos enters within. Why did miracles happen in Egypt? Because we believed they would. Those who didn’t believe in miracles saw only plagues. To see a miracle, you need an open heart and mind, open enough to receive the Infinite. That is the opening we make when we thank G‑d for the miracle of our food.
But the greatest of barriers turned into the greatest of miracles. Not only did the sea become an ambush for the enemy, but also a path that led the children of Israel to their ultimate freedom.
So it is with every obstacle. When you’re out to do the right thing, the entire world is there to assist you—including the most formidable threats, the most impossible challenges. The bigger they are, the more impossible to traverse, the greater the miracle they will provide.
That is the true reality of everything in this world: to serve you on your mission. What is your mission? To make this world miraculous.
And obstacles are miracles waiting to happen.
So, I think we all struggle with slavery of some sort, perhaps this will give you some hope, and maybe a different perspective. The children of Israel went into Egypt as 12 different tribes, and came out a nation. These are just some of the things that really struck me this year, and I’m still chewing on some of them. Unlike the matzah which I am now loading with my leftover yummy charoset which I munch right down.
I’ll leave you with one final Pesach thought, because A) it’s a really good one, and B) it has a picture of a camel.
Got the popcorn?
Here’s a song I learned in school, I love this version. I know it’s by a group called Tractor’s Revenge, but the words are wonderful. I have it on my phone, so I sang it at the end of my Seder.
Echad Mi Yodea אחד מי יודע
It has the meanings in English, it’s wonderful!
Then there is this one, wonderful thoughts, Passover: I’m in Love with the Taste of You, this year’s Aish Pesach video.
And lastly, just for fun. Pesach Funk. “Freedom! Oh man! Gonna live my life the best way I can!” Boy can they dance!
He’s standing there with 12 bodyguards, telling you that you shouldn’t have a gun to protect you, while he has 12 guys protecting him! As if his life counts, but yours is not important? If guns are not important and nobody should have a gun to protect himself, why does Bloomberg have 12 bodyguards? Why doesn’t he stand there with 12 rabbis? Why do they have guns? Instead of guns they should have pastrami sandwiches.
Since Hanukkah I’ve been nursing a little gripe about the lack of respect given to Jews, compared with members of some other religions. Fellow Zelman Partisan Y.B ben Avraham had sent me a link to an article about restaurants contributing pork latkes, yes PORK latkes, to a Haunkkah contest.
If they’d contributed pork to any traditional Muslim festival, editorial writers the world over would be indignant about it. If they’d contributed watermelon to a Martin Luther King Day celebration, we’d have been treated to endless rants about how racist we all are (even we who had nothing to do with it). But pork to a Jewish festival? No problem. Even if it’s a festival commemorating a rebellion against oppressors who, among other things, tried to force pork on the ancient Jews.
While I thought about what to say, I collected other examples of thoughtlessness toward Jews, like Hallmark’s horrible Hanukkah wrapping paper (which could have been a mistake, but still) and Zara’s kiddie concentration camp shirt complete with yellow star. No way could that have been a mistake, just a slap in the face to the six million dead and all who care about the horrors inflicted by the Nazis.
I was feeling indignant. I wanted to say something about how dangerous it is to casually disrespect Jews and Judaism in a world that’s increasingly antisemitic.
Then Islamic terrorists murdered 12 people because an irreverent French magazine didn’t give them and their religion the respect they thought they should have. That put a whole new aspect on things.
Charlie Hebdo didn’t respect any religion. They pilloried Judaism, Christianity, and Islam with equal crudity and disrespect. One cartoon they published showed Jesus, Moses, Mohammed, and the Buddha in bed together after an orgy. But these days only Muslims feel entitled to kill anybody who doesn’t agree with them or who won’t give them artificial, fear-driven “respect.” Other religions take mockery and criticism in stride. There have already been a lot of powerful comments on the slaughter, with people seeing it rightly as an attack on everyone’s freedom of speech and western freedoms in general. Others have dared to point out that these murders are on a spectrum with the new grievance culture. I couldn’t say it better.
But I’ll say right now that if you think your religion can’t be mocked, that’s a sure sign it deserves and needs to be mocked.
If you think people who don’t respect your religion deserve to die, then your religion isn’t worthy of respect, and neither are you. Respect has to be earned.
I’m supposed to interrupt myself here and say that Islamic terrorists don’t represent all Muslims, which is true. They are, however, a growing and increasingly powerful strain within Islam, and there seems to be far too little serious opposition to them within the Muslim world. This is scary, and combined with the increasing insults to Jews, even scarier.
On the other hand, there’s also a positive side to the lack of respect for Jews. I’m not saying there are positives to real violence or real antisemitism, just positives to some of the casual disregard we sometimes see. It means that Jews are accepted as people who can “take it,” people who can roll with life, people who don’t have to be handled with kid gloves, who aren’t going to go nuts if everybody doesn’t kowtow all the time.
In fact, while so many young Muslim men feel entitled to murder anybody who mocks their beliefs, Jews have long been noted for mocking themselves. About 75 percent of America’s stand-up comedians have historically been Jewish, and modern stand-up comedy was nurtured in the Borscht Belt resorts of the Catskills, where dozens of comedians who were soon to be nationally famous told jokes to Jews and about Jews. From the satiric songs of Allan Sherman to the quips of Billy Crystal and Jerry Seinfeld, self-mockery has always been part of Jewish culture. Jews have to be wary of many, and increasing, real threats. But one thing’s for sure; Jews don’t have to fear humor.
Perhaps a lot of young Islamic men would do well to take a lesson from that. You can’t earn respect by cutting somebody’s head off or shooting them in cold blood. You might get farther by accepting that respect comes to those who earn it and acceptance comes to those who understand that world doesn’t owe them anything.
As someone who is hardly new to liberty (I began writing a weekly newspaper column in 1998, in Canada), but who takes her cues about Aaron’s legacy from individuals who were closely associated with him, forgive me for asking: If The Zelman Partisans is open to any and all—and I like the idea of inclusiveness in this cause—what makes us Jewish? I’m agnostic on the matter, if curious on just how we stay true to the advertized motto of “Jews. Guns. No compromise. No surrender.”