It’s that time of year again when we talk about slavery and freedom, injustice and liberation and the many other messages contained within the story of the Exodus. Perhaps this year we need to start with a look at Pharaoh, a ruler concerned with changing demographics, who chose to control part of the population under his control by targeting their children. His decision caused women to use their power and abilities to try to outsmart his system, and the Talmud tells us “The Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt because of the merit of the righteous women of that generation.”
We are their heirs but how are we to follow in the footsteps of those women today?
First we recognize that the story of a great victory for the downtrodden, and Judaism’s optimism that good will triumph, can cloud our understanding of the continuing power of evil. Pharaoh, in many different manifestations, is always with us. Sometimes he is a Pharaoh who doesn’t care what is right and just or what we think about his actions, and we need to do everything in our power, agitating from outside, against him. And sometimes, as happens more often in our country, Pharaoh is embedded within a government, in the form of policy and regulations, and we must work within the system to root him out.
This year it is especially important that as we recall the life of slavery and tyranny in Egypt, we heed our rabbis and savor freedom’s depth and wonders, and at the same time honor our ancestors in Egypt by organizing with all our power to fight Pharaoh in whatever form he appears.
—Lesley Frost, Advocacy Chair