Thoughts & Teachings

Rabbi Deborah Wechsler


This Shabbat we call Shabbat Parah, the first of four special Shabbatot leading up to Pesah, the festival of witnessing. The purpose of the redemption from Egyptian slavery, the purpose of God’s intervention through the plagues and the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart in the Exodus narrative was, “So that you may tell the story in the hearing of your children and your children’s children.” (Exodus 10:2) We were redeemed from Egypt so that we might tell the story, and through that telling coming to know God. In other words, by bearing witness not only do we bring others to know God’s nature, but we ourselves come to know God in a more intimate way. And even though we might not have been eyewitnesses to that redemption in Egypt, by virtue of our being Jewish, it becomes our task to give testimony to a truth that we know only by telling, only by hearing. There is no limit to the testimony that may be given on Seder night. We say in the Hagaddah that the more one tells, the more it is praiseworthy. Not all versions are equally good, but none of the stories can be totally discounted. Avivah Zornberg reminds us that there is truth in every narrative of redemption.

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