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Passover 2021 – Rabbi Reflections Keneseth Beth Israel


Speak Truth to Power
By Rabbi Dovid S. Asher

When Moshe goes to Pharaoh to speak truth to power on behalf of the Jewish people, it was a message and lesson in morality.  Don’t put people in chains and stifle humanity’s march for self-determining an aspirational destiny.  The strength behind Moshe’s message was predicated upon a force that could only be universalistic in nature.  The rightness and correctness of Moshe’s lobbying position was influential in part because of the universalistic aspect of his arguments.  In other words, Moshe had the cosmos backing him on some level.  The objective truth was part of the story of Moshe’s successful efforts for Jewish emancipation.  The source of this objectivity was monotheism and an omnipotent G-d.  If G-d, or the source of Moshe’s advocacy, was limited by time and space then we would still be in chains.

When we speak truth to power, such as when we strive for religious liberties that are often seemingly out of reach or when we go up against the hundreds of countries that often vote against equality for Israel, then how do we tap into Moshe’s recipe for success and strategize for achieving our goals?  The aforementioned specific goals are merely examples, but we could fill in the blank with any number of individual or collective agenda items.  Whether it’s due to our diminutive size or the tall odds of changing a glacially moving institution or social structure, how can we be privy to the divine inspiration that was a major part of the Jewish people’s and Moshe’s original Passover story?

The answer is that since we do not have the Moshe’s clarity by virtue of his direct prophecy, we can use the tool of the Haggadah.  The term of “Haggadah” belies the fundamental exercise of the seder night.  Retelling the story is the fulfilment of the unique Pesach mitzvah and a fulfillment of Torah study.  While we do not have G-d coaching us along the way like Moshe did on how to achieving freedom from whatever is enchaining us and withholding us from progress, fortunately, we do have Torah.  Torah is the one article that provides us with the same effective weapon of ideas that was utilized by Moshe to achieve victory for our people.  This is why the Haggadah is full of Torah passages.  May the Almighty bless us with a wonderful holiday and the fortitude necessary to access this universalistic, objective truth of the Torah, which gives us clout for our causes both small and large.

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