Amsterdam Hagadah, 1695.
“A few years ago, my father was in surgery for ten hours. It was an extremely complex operation for a very serious tumor.”
Karen and I are paying a shiva (condolence) call to a friend in the community, a prominent physician, and as he speaks about his father his voice drops a register. It’s as if he can’t quite believe that his beloved parent is gone.
“Anyway, after the surgery, there were so many tubes running in and out of my father’s body, he was hooked up to so many machines. Finally, my father woke up and the surgeon asked my father if anything was bothering him.
“My father said: ‘Yes, the situation of the Jews in Israel bothers me.’
“That’s the kind of man my father was,” says our friend.
On the way home, Karen and I talk about the story. We are both deeply touched. It’s so personal, and yet so completely Jewish.
It is also a perfect Passover story.
The Torah stresses: “… you shall eat Matzos, the bread of affliction… so that you will remember the day of your going out from Egypt all the days of your life.” (Devarim 16:3)
All the days of your life.
Because the Torah understands that memory is short, and human beings need physical rituals in order to keep memories alive.
Now, as always, assaults on Jewish memory, on Judaism and the Jewish people are rampant. On Passover we celebrate our freedom, but we remember bondage because there are always enemies anxious to enslave and annihilate the Jewish people.