If you’re reading the portion of the Haggadah called ‘Maggid’ , מגיד you’re surely talking about slavery
and liberation — and while many people treat the biblical slavery narrative as a sacred myth rather
than a chapter of history, the discussion of slavery and freedom could not possibly be more relevant.
As we speak, people are seized, caged, and sold into servitude in Libya, a tragically lawless wreckage of
a country. The global scourge of human trafficking is remarkable in scope. Abuse of workers — people
who pick or process the food we buy — is a very real part of our American economic landscape.
As we speak, waves of refugees risk perilous journeys in the hope of escaping a fate as dark as anything
conjured up by the Egypt portrayed in our scripture. Our torah recounts a compassionate and bold
daughter of Pharaoh scooping Moses from the river — and news accounts, falling on numbed and callous
ears, tally the latest numbers of those who drown during their doomed voyage. We have seen the
pictures of the babies who weren’t fortunate enough to be rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter.
Our Seders recount the ancient plagues that ravaged Egypt. What are the modern plagues that darken
our own land — dare we speak of those plagues or of our failure to meaningfully respond to them?
Among the shining accomplishments of contemporary Jewish teachers (Arthur Waskow comes to mind;
there are many others), is a serious effort to really personally experience leaving Egypt. When we read
the charge that in each generation each of us is obligated to see ourselves as having left Egypt — these
are not empty words.
Slavery is very cruel and very real and very much within our broken world. In between the delicious
food and the delightful guests — there’s a message. Passover can and should be a galvanizing moment.
Redemption will not come wrapped up in a napkin like the Afikomen being hunted down by the kids at