Rabbis Without Borders: For Passover and the Exodus, Think Rivers, Not Seas

April 5, 2017

"....The story of Passover is a fundamental narrative within Jewish tradition and theology. Found in the Torah in the Book of Exodus, the story begins with the enslavement of the Israelites by Pharaoh in Egypt and concludes with their liberation by God through Moses. The details—the Israelites crying out, the harsh decrees of Pharaoh, Moses’s call at the burning bush, and the series of demands for freedom by Moses each accompanied by a plague—round out this overarching story of deliverance and emancipation.

The story is fundamental because of this narrative arc from oppression to liberation. It is a paradigm for personal transformation, and it is a paradigm for social change. Indeed, when we retell the story at the Passover Seder, it is our requirement to make connections between the biblical narrative and our own lives and situations.

The climax of the narrative is the crossing of the Sea of Reeds: having left Egypt the Israelites find themselves pursued by the Egyptian army. They arrive at the Sea of Reeds and seeming have no place to turn; before them is an impassable sea and behind them is at best return to slavery and at worst death. Through both divine guidance and the human motivation for freedom, the sea is split in two and the Israelites move forward on dry land before it comes together again on top of the Egyptian army...."

By Rabbi Seth Goldstein, a Rabbis Without Borders Fellow, from the Rabbis Without Borders Blog on My Jewish Learning.com