Friday, April 06, 2007

Reading The Haggadah With Aliyah Glasses

Many years ago, disheartened at the overwhelmingly masculine face of the Haggadah, I went on a search for commentaries that would reveal something, anything! feminine about this essential story of the Jewish people. And I found lots of material hidden, as much of the feminine aspects of Torah are, just below the surface. For years after that, at least once during the pre-Pesach season, I would give a talk called Feminine Aspects of The Passover Story.

This year, in preparation for Pesach, I looked at Haggadah commentaries with a different appetite. The seminal story of the Jewish people is found in the Haggadah! Gd took us out of slavery in Egypt to be His people. For what purpose? To live our lives in Monsey, Lakewood or Baltimore? I don’t think so. The whole purpose of the drama in Egypt was to bring us to the Land of Israel.

The Haggadah is a virtual pre-aliyah seminar!

One point that came to me quite clearly, when learning The Haggadah of the Jewish Idea (Or Ha’Raayon) by R. Binyamin Zvi Kahane, son of R. Meir Kahane, was that American Jews are asleep at the switch.

“But in every single generation they rise up against us to destroy us. And the Holy One, Blessed be He, rescues us from their hands."

Is it true that in every generation, the non-Jews want to destroy us? Haman and Hitler wanted to annihilate us physically. In other times and places, we are seduced into assimilation and thus destroyed spiritually.

R. Shimon Apisdorf complied a list of 30 attempts to get rid of the Jewish people by the nations of the world. Slavery, crusades, expulsions, pogroms, war. There is no end to the ways other nations have wanted to extinguish the Jewish people.

But that could never happen in America, right?

“America is an advanced, civilized country.”
“We have never had such good friends as we have in the White House.”
“A strong Jewish community in America assures a strong Israel.”
“America is different.”

I pray, when the time comes, that the Jewish exodus from America be as gentle and pain free as possible. But that is not the same as assuming that the time we will be leaving America in large numbers will never come. When we leave, may it be volitionally, by Gd's Will, and not by the will of the rest of the American people, Gd-forbid.

In the words of George Santayana: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

My advice to American Jews?

Get a passport.

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