Was it simply to relieve us from the burdens of slavery? It is deep in our nature to despise slavery and to love freedom. We begin the book of Exodus in great pain as we read the horrifying tale of degradation and death visited upon the Israelites by Pharaoh. And, then, with equal relief and gratitude, we read of God’s salvation of Moses and the people in a miraculous deliverance. It is no surprise that this story of redemption has served as a source of inspiration for freedom movements ever since.
Yet, when we finish recounting the tale of freedom, say, at the end of the Haggadah, how often do we persist with the the rest of the story? Do we understand that it doesn’t end with the festivity; indeed much just begins there. We were freed, but for what purpose? Essentially, we learn through the journey from Egypt to Mt. Sinai that God took off the yoke of Pharaoh so we might take on the yoke of God.
We leave Egypt stamped with duties born out of the freedom granted us by God’s saving hand:
• We are always to remember and re-live God’s redemption of us from Egypt;
• We are to take on the responsibility of counting the first month and all months, using our time in service of God;
• We are to remember to have God’s teaching in our minds, in our mouths, and on our hands;
• We are to draw upon the story of our redemption and our awareness of our having been created in God’s image to serve as redeeming forces in the world; and
• We are to love the stranger because we were once strangers in Egypt.