Passover Reflection: What it means to be free
Living in a modern and busy city one can all too often become desensitised to injustice. This is all the more true in my own experience as a Londoner.
Every day the newspapers detail another tale of crime and suffering; the morning commute is characterised by indifference to homelessness and the unease and fear between strangers who live and work side by side. Our society often encourages us to adopt a voyeuristic attitude to the suffering of others. One example is reality TV – though thoroughly entertaining, it is often built around the notion of exploiting individuals for the benefit of viewers.
Of course the reality is not all bleak and not without acts of goodwill and kindness. The risk is in getting swept in the current and becoming distanced from the initial sense of injustice you once felt when first confronted with poverty, homelessness, oppression and prejudice.
This week, I’ll be receiving my personal annual reminder of the consequences of indifference. Celebrated each spring, the festival of Passover is marked by sitting around a table surrounded by family and friends and reciting the story of Jewish liberation from slavery. Filled with social justice themes, it is impossible not to make the link with the struggle to overcome injustice in the contemporary world in which we live.
Celebrating the festival requires not only a recollection of the Exodus, but also a re-living of the circumstances of slavery by putting ourselves in the shoes of the enslaved and oppressed and appreciating what it means to be free.
“In every generation all of us are obliged to regard ourselves as if we ourselves went forth from the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 13:8)
This personal experience of slavery motivates us to examine the current global situation and grapple with cases of injustice, oppression, and slavery today. Sadly, slavery persists even to this day. Passover is an opportunity for us to raise awareness of contemporary examples of slavery and oppression throughout the world.
For each of us who have been blessed with freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to pursue the path of our choosing, there are many around the world for who these freedoms are still out of reach.
This year, as I gather around the table to enjoy a festive meal, I will be making an effort to appreciate the freedoms and blessings I’ve been granted and recommitting to doing all I can use my position of privilege to help those in need of liberation.