The identity of the Jewish people is determined by everything that happened to our ancestors in Egypt, their process of liberation by God, their wandering through the desert, and the revelation and bestowal of the Torah at Sinai.
These events are noted in Judaism’s daily prayers because they enshrine the heart of Israel.
The priority of freedom, the dignity of the individual, and the spirituality of Jewish culture is grounded in the celebration of Pesach.
The biblical text itself prescribes that year after year the descendants of the Children of Israel must recreate the dinner their ancestors celebrated in Egypt on the eve of their liberation. Just as on that night thirty-three hundred years ago, so too today one finds on the Passover table unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Parents pass on to their children this story and its moral lessons about human dignity, which each individual must uphold and sustain.
The text that serves as a guide for the transmission of the story of Pesach, the Haggadah, refers to many other defining moments in the history of the Jewish people. The last of these, to which reference must be made in the Seder, the order of the Passover dinner, is the uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto that took place on the eve of Pesach in 1943. This was the first uprising against the Nazis in the cities they occupied.
The past, despite all its crises and pain, illuminates our present. Because we are here seeking to live out our values, it is clear that the Pharaohs of all times did not overwhelm us. In some way, God, who took us out of Egypt, continues to liberate us. The story continues to be passed on through us, and the hope of a world of peace endures. The lesson conveyed in each Seder once again inspires and defines us.