We all understand the significance of Passover as the holiday of freedom. It is a freedom granted to our ancestors who were enslaved in Egypt through divine effort and sadly through much suffering of the Egyptians. Passover's profound message of freedom is of course universal. It speaks to the core of mankind’s basic instinct, the "yearning to be free." Although the holiday of Passover is a Jewish holiday, it also represents a universal appreciation of freedom everywhere.
When the Jewish people began celebrating this freedom festival the world was still very cruel and barbaric. It was only in 1776 with the American Declaration of Independence that both personal and national freedom was finally understood to be a natural right of all mankind. While the declaration was written 242 years ago, the world is still in the process of catching up to its message. Three thousand years after the event of Exodus there is still much oppression around the world. In many countries slavery or slavery conditions of workers as well as oppression of women and gay people still exist.
It is interesting to note that even in the ancient kingdom of Israel, while there was a concept of workers without pay for war captives or under certain circumstances for Hebrews, the fundamental human rights for this kind of workers were spelled out in the Torah and were strictly observed. They were treated as domestic help with decency and respect. The word "Eved" which is the Hebrew word for slave is a basic derivation from the word, worker, "Oved". That means that in ancient Israel the concept of slavery was much different then what the ancient world understood it to be.
The struggle for freedom as depicted in the story of exodus gained much significance not only in the African American community during centuries past but during the second world war as well, when a most incredible Jewish revolt against the Nazis took place in the Warsaw ghetto under impossible conditions We remember the small group of Jewish fighters led by 23 years old Mordechai Anielewiczw who held the mighty Nazi war machine back for three weeks and never gave up until there was no more pistols and Molotov cocktails left to fight with. This year on the first night of Passover we are commemorating the 75th year anniversary of what was an iconic symbol for heroic resistance to the Nazis throughout occupied Europe.
May they inspire us to love and protect freedom as much as they did.