Another Perspective

Truth and Falsehood at Passover

The view from Miami Beach.

By 4.6.12

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Media bias is one subject and Passover is another, you might think. Leftist domination of the academy is one subject and Passover is another, you might also think. But you would be wrong, I fear.

The structure of Passover is designed not merely to provide a fun family get-together, nor is it limited to inspiring a spiritual holiday in celebration of freedom. It does all of those things secondarily, but its primary task is to provide the evidentiary framework for the entire Jewish project. The Bible repeats numerous times that the first night of Passover must be used by parents to teach their children the facts of the historical and miraculous redemption by God of the Jewish People from slavery and oppression in Egypt.

The great Jewish writer, Nachmanides, expounds on this by declaring that the founding principle of Jewish tradition is that "a man does not pass a legacy of falsehood to his children." The very fact that in each year in each generation, again and again and again over three thousand years, every Jewish father has told every Jewish child the same story with the same details forms the basis of our certain knowledge of those events.

Consequently, when the doubters spin their theories of evolving mythology in an effort to undermine the truth of the Bible, traditional Jews laugh. They do not rely on belief or on faith but on a definite knowledge based on the incontrovertible testimony of a million fathers over thousands of years. All the egghead philosophizing melts away before the veracity of multiple eyewitness reports, preserved in a flawless filing system operating undisturbed over the millennia.

Thus the Jew has a heavy stake in the accurate reporting of news and the conscientious transmission of history. He cannot afford to be influenced by a culture that will teach fathers to lie to their children. Once that begins to happen, the foundation is gone.

On the one hand, Passover 2012 is a very happy time, especially here in Miami, where we host Jews from all over the world who come to experience the thrill of freedom in a tropical paradise with only one flaw: not enough of it has been paved to make parking lots.

The wealthier class of Jew is here leaving his money at all the local businesses. Those who stay at hotels have their food catered but many rent villas here -- ten days for a home with a pool costs $2500; younger locals cash in by pocketing the cash and spending Passover at their parents -- and cook for themselves, buying thousands in provisions. It is an expensive affair, because all that cheap bread cannot be eaten for eight days, and the specially baked matzohs can cost from five to thirty dollars a pound.

These partiers are not selfish and the less fortunate are richly subsidized. In my North Miami Beach neighborhood alone, anonymous donors gave out hundreds of thousands of dollars in gift certificates usable in the stores that sell Passover products. A truck pulled up on a street corner here and unloaded enormous quantities of fresh vegetables available free to local families struggling to get through the holiday.

Yet all this passing off falsehood in place of truth gives me pause. Nobel laureate Günter Grass announces in a poem that Israel is a greater obstacle to world peace than Iran. Authoress Naomi Ragen lifts entire sections of Sarah Shapiro's book virtually word-for-word; when convicted of plagiarism in Israel, she gets American reporters to say that U.S.-born Naomi Ragen is being persecuted by a petty Israeli huckster -- concealing the fact that Mrs. Shapiro is not only U.S.-born herself, she is the daughter of famed American author Norman Cousins. The spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department will not state definitively in her press conference that Jerusalem belongs to Israel, saying that is the subject of ongoing negotiations. Truth apparently is a negotiable commodity.

Freedom is great and it should be treasured, never more than on Passover. But if we foolishly allow truth to be distorted -- even if that is done in the name of social justice or some such chimera -- we will find ourselves once again wearing the yoke of slavery, and we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

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About the Author

Jay D. Homnick, commentator and humorist, is a frequent contributor to The American Spectator.