Thursday, 2 April 2015

Retelling the Passover Story

This Friday evening marks the beginning of the eight days of Passover. We start the Passover (Pesach) with a special meal on the first two evenings called the Seder meal.


Photo curtesy of Bridget Blair from Thinking of the Days
During the Seder meal we retell the story from Exodus of the escape from slavery in Egypt. To hear Leicester's Rabbi Pink talk about this then please visit Radio Leicester. His interview is 1:45 mins into the programme.

I talked about it on my blog last year. I just reread that post and I’ve decided that, if we can retell the same story every year at the Seder table and it still has an effect on us, then my blog post from last year can stand a second telling because it’s still… no, sadly, it’s even more relevant today than it was last year.

This is a section from my last year’s post with only minor alterations:
We have to tell the story every year to help us remember. We eat bitter herbs so that we never forget the bitter times of slavery. We dip parsley into salt water so that we never forget the tears. Does it make it easier to bear, knowing that this happened not today but thousands of years ago?
Today is the anniversary of the liberation of Belsen in 1945. (This was correct last year. The Passover is determined by the Hebrew calendar. The actual date is 15th April.) When the soldiers arrived they were horrified to see piles of dead and rotting corpses and thousands of sick and starving prisoners. Does it make it easier to bear, knowing that this happened not today but 69 years ago? (70 years ago now.) 
Today in 1994 Rwandans were being massacred, not by the thousands but by the hundred-thousands. The massacres continued until mid-July. Does it make it easier to bear, knowing that this happened not today but over 20 years ago?
When I wrote that post there was headline news about the liberation of sex slaves locked in rooms in the UK. It doesn’t get any closer to home or contemporary than that and sadly the atrocities continue. There have been too many incidents to list, but I feel I have to mention the horrific Charlie Hebdo shootings. 

And yet we continue to retell the story of the Exodus in the hope that by remembering, it might mean that it is not repeated. Are we remembering in vain?


Do you think that it is important to remember the past, or should we only look to the future?

Update: While I was writing the above blog post the news was breaking that Islamist gunmen had shot dead 147 people at a college in Kenya. Tragic news. There is no end to it.

18 comments:

  1. Great post! It seems that today we're in utter shock by beheadings, captivity, and persecution of others. We see it, but...are we too frightened? Desensitized? Have doubt?

    God doesn't want anyone held in captivity. I hope we get this eventually and take a true stand.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope so too, Shelly. The news is certainly grim.

      Delete
  2. I think the retelling is important and I admire the Hebrew religion for its emphasis on history - we can all learn from it. All the best as you remember and celebrate Passover

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Joanne. I also think that we should be able to learn from history.

      Delete
  3. Hi Ros - essential to remember the past but to put it into today's context - so we don't forget .. there's way too many unhealthy goings on ... I really don't know where the world is taking us and hope someone somewhere will have some sense at some stage .. we can't go backwards with dictators though ..

    Have a peaceful Passover - Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Far too many unhealthy goings on, you're right. Thank you and have a lovely Easter, Hilary.

      Delete
  4. I think all politicians should have history degrees - and then they would see that we repeat mistakes over and over again. If only they stopped to think and learn from the past, they might begin to do things a bit differently!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Worryingly, I suspect quite a few of our politicians do have a good knowledge of the past but forget when it comes to dealing with the present.

      Delete
  5. It was great to met Rabbi Pink and his lovely family yesterday to talk about the Passover...and that photo you've used is his table and wine!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for allowing me to use your lovely photograph, Bridget. If you'd like to give me a link to the interview I'll post it up in the blog. Thanks.

      Delete
  6. We must remember the past-and learn from it hopefully. The Exodus and it`s retelling has so much resonance to the world today that it is worth retelling every year. The holocaust MUST never be forgotten and should be talked about for ever as a reminder of what man can do to fellow man. As you say atrocities still continue on a regular basis sadly. We must not stop in our efforts to combat such things. Thank you for such a thought provoking post Rosalind and wishing you a happy passover. Petra.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with your comment that events like the Holocaust must never be forgotten, Petra, but it's one thing remembering. It's quite another thing knowing that the remembering makes a difference. Right now I don't think it does. Happy Passover to you too.

      Delete
  7. It's important to remember but a shame that our current bunch of politicians seem either not to know or not to care.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, Ann. As I said to Jo, I suspect they remember but don't apply that memory to dealings of the present time.

      Delete
  8. It must be incredible to be part of a faith in which the stories are told over a family meal.

    ReplyDelete
  9. We need to remember, but we should use the knowledge to better the world. Thank you for this post. I lift up Kenya.

    ReplyDelete
  10. We have to remember, and keep holiday traditions like Passover Seders alive. It is horrible that there are so many atrocities going on in the world today. I wish there was a way to put an end to all of the gruesome violence. Sadly, in a few years there won't be many Holocaust survivors left, and more people will continue to deny that it ever happened in the first place. That's why even if we can't change the world, we can still do our best to tell our children and grandchildren what their grandparents fought so hard for. Rosalind, you've done your part by sharing important moments in history, so children will learn about them. Hope you're still able to have a happy Passover, Rosalind.

    Julie

    ReplyDelete
  11. Alas Ros to some people remembering will make no difference at all. Every time we turn on the news we hear of another atrocity. It lasts on the news for a few days then it is forgotten about and we're hearing of some pop star who fell over while intoxicated. Let's hope there's enough good people in the world to make up for the bad.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for commenting. I do love receiving comments. Your comment will be sent to me for moderation before appearing here.

If you do not have a Google account, click on the Google account box and select Anonymous. Spam comments are not accepted on this blog.