Of Passover and social justice

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Apr 09, 2009 Of Passover and social justice

Passover commenced last night. Human rights and social justice are the most important message to me with Passover. 

A close relative yesterday emailed a Passover greeting to family members. I replied as follows:

Because I will not be with any of you to do so live at the seder table, here’s the rabble I would have roused at the seder:

Passover, of course, is a bittersweet holiday, not only because it juxtaposes slavery with release from slavery, but also because it continues to portray a god with a hairtrigger finger, although I do not believe in the torah as non-fiction. After unnecessarily killing millions of people in the flood, god then proceeded to kill innocent Egyptian children as one of the plagues, thus giving the morbid name of the holiday of passing over Jewish homes to kill the non-Jewish children. (And what if a vengeful neighbor went and whitewashed the lamb’s blood off the doorpost of the Jewish home?) 

There was no need to kill animals to show the angel of death that these were Jewish homes. They could have just bought inexpensive mezzuzot from their local Judaic shops, and then could have used them annually thereafter. 

The Passover story includes the violence of swallowing up the Egyptian soldiers in the Red Sea. That may have been necessary to prevent the Jews from being returned to slavery. On the other hand, violence begets violence, and the world continues being very violent. 

In the desert, the eventually long-entrenched sexist roots in Jewish practice were solidified, apparently only with males as religious leaders and political leaders. Fortunately, such Jewish branches as the Reform, Reconstructionist, and Jewish Renewal movements treat the genders equally.  

As a vegetarian for ethical reasons, I feel pain at seeing the shankbone on the seder plate. That just represents an unnecessary perpetuation of violence. One can substitute a carrot or anything else for the shankbone. 

For me, Passover represents the never-ending struggle for human rights and social justice, and, also, efforts at an enjoyable and harmonious gathering fortified with wine and humor. 

I will step down from my soapbox, until next year. 

Happy Pesach!

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