How do we translate the message of Passover into the reality of the everyday? Maimonides, in the Mishneh Torah, helps us in discovering an answer. He explains that in Leviticus 19:36 there are two seemingly disconnected ideas. The Torah speaks about not committing an injustice in the workplace and God freeing us from the land of Egypt. Why are these two ideas juxtaposed one to the other? Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller explains that Maimonides was trying to show that observing ethical behavior in one’s profession is living out the meaning of the Exodus. Not many of us have as much power as Pharaoh. It really isn’t feasible to turn someone into a slave overnight and sometimes, it is difficult to see ourselves as having really left Egypt. The concept feels foreign. However, many of us have the ability to abuse power in places like the marketplace: within our jobs, homes, and families. There are real ways we make others feel like slaves. People feel subservient with our words. People feel powerless when they are cheated and deceived. With our tone and attitude, Egypt descends upon our lives when we least expect. As we begin the Passover season, we must ask ourselves: How does the story of the Exodus exist in my life? Do I make others feel powerless or do I acknowledge God’s existence by helping someone to feel seen or heard? Let us continue to experience our journey of freedom each and every day.
Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Nicole Guzik