The second is empathy. At the seder, we are asked to place ourselves in the footsteps of those who were physically there, as Jews note that we were slaves in Egypt and now we are free. A central part of the reading of the Passover Haggadah states:
“In each generation, each person is obligated to see himself or herself as though he or she personally came forth from Egypt.”
This concept is repeated in song and other readings as we attempt to “relive” history, so that its lessons are not forgotten.
So what does this mean for the current catastrophe in Syria, with an exodus of people fleeing to freedom as fast as they can get out the door?
Should we not place ourselves — to the best such placement can even be contemplated — into the shoes of others living in oppression?
If people are enslaved or living under tyranny elsewhere, how can we really be free if we have empathy?
Aren’t those who are currently free, mostly free due to little more than the lottery of birth?
An additional Passover prayer for President Trump, in the event that he can attend a seder or two this week:
Let him contemplate that the Jewish escape from tyranny and slavery 3,000+ years ago is not just history, but that others remain in such dire circumstances today. Let him have the wisdom and the charity to open our doors to those fleeing oppression, and recognize that those who make it to freedom are often the best that this world has to offer.
While freedom may be a lottery for most, it is not for all.