Passover: A Story of Liberation From Authoritarianism - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Passover: A Story of Liberation From Authoritarianism

The holiday of Passover is a celebration of liberation. Today, when even those who are authoritarian in goal and in practice claim to be liberators, this millennia-old holiday offers testimony about what real liberation is.

The Story

First of all, Scripture instructs that the story of liberation must be told again and again. And though in practice everyone is present at the telling of the story, it is to the children that one must relate: “You will tell your child on that day.”

We may hire teachers to teach our children, but only as our helpers, not as our substitutes. Unless we tell our own story to them, it will be not be heard. We must tell our own story. Today, when professional educators are under immense political pressure to subvert the story of freedom, we must see to it that their narrative is combatted and overcome by our own. If we cannot tell our own story, we have no freedom, and our children will not know the difference.

God alone and God’s truth are the source of freedom’s victory.

The subverted story today tells half-truths, pieces severed from a whole and living body. It is a tale of how we are hopelessly bigoted and our national story is one of irredeemable shame. This fake story uplifts the ideologue alone as a model of perfection, perfectly distinguished in a every way from everyone else. And since the ideology is the sole good, anyone who dissents is cut off from all good. All freedoms must be denied to dissenters.

Their attitude is like that of the conqueror of Alexandria standing before its magnificent library containing the greatest works of Western antiquity. As told by a medieval Arab historian, the conquering caliph, Umar, is supposed to have said: “As for the books, if what is in them is accordance with the Book of Allah, then we should be content with the Book of Allah. If what is in them is contrary to the Book of Allah, then we have no need of them. So go ahead and destroy them.”

If I have the right and perfect doctrine, and I understand and interpret it perfectly, then nothing and no one else is needed. But this way lies destruction.

Everyone Is a Part of the Story

The liturgy of the Passover night meal, the Haggada, sets a different tone. To make truth our own requires more than assertions backed by force. Truth requires all the hard work that taskmasters require and more. Only with constant attention to God and to our responsibilities to our children, our larger family, our community, and our nation can we overcome and be redeemed. That constant attention brings with it an end to pretense.

The Haggada quotes from the Book of Joshua and everyone reads: “Your forefathers of old dwelt on the other side of the river and served other gods.” Knowing that leads us forward, to choose truth over pretension. Yes, we once did that. No, we resolve not to serve anything less that the truth again.

Knowing our fallibility leads us to value difference. Parts of the whole truth that we need to know lie in others. This is especially true of our children, to whom we tell our story and who will carry it forward, adding their own chapter. The Haggada speaks of four different children: one who gets the idea and wants to know the whole story from start to finish, one who is oppositional, one who is uncritical and shallow, and one who doesn’t know even how to start. All of them have their place at the table; all of them summon forth different aspects of the story of liberation, and all are necessary. The night and its story would not be complete without each of them.

There Are Always Pharaohs

The story is ongoing. The Haggada has us read: “Not one alone arose to finish us off, but in every generation, some stand against us to do the same.”

Those who love freedom know that it demands vigilance. Those who wish to reduce truth to force and power will act on their beliefs. If we become complacent, enjoying the fruits of freedom without tending to the tree that produced it, the devotees of force smell that weakness. They use the easy incredulity of those accustomed to freedom that anyone could want anything less, and they advance under its cover. Sometimes they advance so far that it only by expending mountains of gold and rivers of blood are we able to keep freedom alive.

The story of the Haggada says that at the end, “The Holy Blessed One saves us from their hands.” God alone and God’s truth are the source of freedom’s victory. Telling the story keeps us from embracing something lesser as anything else than an instrument of this great truth.

The Final Redemption Is Present From the Beginning

The narrative of the Haggada follows the story of the redemption from slavery in the past and moves us along the story still playing out, of the coming of the final redemption, of the not-yet-realized world which the knowledge of God will cover as waters cover the sea bed. A cup of wine is poured for Elijah the Prophet, the herald of the Messiah, and at the end, those at the table cry out, “Next year in Jerusalem!” — a cry heard over centuries when only the strongest faith could imagine it might be a living actuality.

Leading up to that rousing declaration, a cycle of psalms is sung. Next to last in the cycle is the shortest chapter in all Scripture, Psalm 117:

Praise the Lord, all you nations, extol him, all you peoples.
For He has acted with us in steadfast love, and His truth is forever — praise the Lord!

The Psalmist brings us to see that this triumphant story of liberation, God’s tremendous kindness to this one historical people, is meant as an inspiration and model for all nations and peoples.

It is no wonder that the intersectionalists and the wokists are riddled with hatred of the people of Israel. No less than for the tyrant class of Iran, they see both Israel and America as satanic and needing to be destroyed or at least made over as something unrecognizable. Freedom is for them unnecessary, for what need is there for it if one has the entirety of the truth? (READ MORE from Shmuel Klatzkin: There Is Nothing More Dangerous Than Substituting Politics for Religion)

We must see these modern Pharaohs, these would-be man-gods, with no illusions. We must take up freedom’s story as our own. But never in mere opposition. We know that their mistakes could have been our own, for our ancestors, even our past selves, were worshipping other gods across the river. The humility of that truth has enabled our victories to be liberation for our opponents as well and a remaking of their society in the light of this generous truth.

But now we join hands with all who come to freedom’s table. We welcome them all, with each person’s indispensable insight into the image of God that is each person’s life. We know it is this vision that leads us to proclaim to all Pharaohs that every one of us has unalienable rights, and we will devote our lives to building a nation and a world built on that recognition.

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