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April 17, 1981 - Image 19

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-04-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Friday, April 17 1981

19

Passover Rejected Evils of Egypt

By ARNOLD AGES

TORONTO — The tradi-''
tonal Haggada is certainly
one of the best pedagogical
texts in history. For mil-
lenia Jews have used this
vehicle to convey the misery
of the slave experience in
Egypt and the grandeur of
the liberation from bon-
dage.
The Haggada, however,
focuses on the torment of
servitude and the first high
moments of freedom when
the children of Israel are re-
der—ed from the Pharaonic
h through the "out-
stretched hand of the Lord."
Tradition dictates that
Seder participants must
suspend disbelief and
transport themselves back
to the slave experienc,,e in
order to understand the
epoch-making event that
made the Israelites a holy
nation and a kingdom of
priests.

This latter descriptive
title provides a key to our
fuller comprehension of
the symbolism of the
Passover observance.
There is much compel-
ling evidence to suggest
that the Judaism which
took shape after the
Exodus and under God's
aegis was fashioned, in
part, as a direct rebuttal
of the religious philos-
ophy which the Israelites
had encountered. in
Egypt.

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The rejection of the Egyp-
tian experience can be seen
in the biblical chapters
which follow the actual
exodus from Egypt — chap-
ters which are often neg-
lected by students of Torah
because they do not corn-
pare in drama and high ten-
sion with the exodus mo-
ments.
In this there is some
irony. In. Moses' exhortation
to Pharaoh the latter is
enjoined to release the Is-
raelites = "so that they may
worship me in the desert."
That warship is not detailed
until the sixth and seventh
sidrot in the Book of
Exodus, in Mishpatim and
Terumah. The form of wor-
ship is amplified in the re-
maining chapters of Exodus
and, of course, in Leviticus.
A survey of those neg-
lected sections shows that
they contain a dramatic
quality of their own no less
important than the elec-
trifying scenes of deliv-
erance.
The Passover Haggada
has brilliantly preserved
for us those riveting por-
traits of a people on the
march to physical rede-
mption. That text book
par excellence points in-
ferentially to the spiritual
redemption implicit in
the exodus experience; it
does not, however, spell it
out. •
That task has been left to
the Torah portions referred
to above.
Conceptually
the
Judaism of the desert con-
stitutes a rebuke to Egypt.
There the people worshiped
a pantheon of gods, some

1

NEW YORK — Victims
of arthritis, backache, ten-
nis elbow and similar ail-
ments may find relief in
Neuroger III, a new Israeli
device that is used to relieve
chronic and acute pain.
The device is a battery-
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pain-deadening substance
in the body.

half-man, half-beast. The
bull was an object of adora-
tion. The Egyptian cosmos
was peopled with competing
deities. The Pharaoh him-
self encouraged belief in his
own divinity.
Theodor Reik (from whom
some of this material is bor-
rowed) points out that
magic and sorcery were
staples in Egyptian reli-
gion. Moses' gesture with
the rod at Pharaoh's court
and the replication of rod-
snake transformation by
the hartumim, the magi-
cians, points to the preva-
lence of the black arts in the
Egyptian kingdom.
In the Torah republic
which is set up in the post-
exodus community magic in
all forms is repressed. Noth-
ing which detracts from the
glory of the one true God is
permitted.

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