|“And the Egyptians chased them, horses and chariots of Pharaoh, the army, and overtook them encamping by the sea..
|The children of Israel looked up..and were terrified, and cried out to God, and yelled at Moses: There were not enough graves in Egypt?? We told you back in Egypt – leave us alone! It would have better for us to stay slaves in Egypt rather than die here in this wilderness.”(Ex. 14:9-12)It’s great text. Also chosen to be the Torah reading on the Sabbath of Passover. Much has been written on this first official Jewish National reaction to crisis: a sarcastic joke and terrified refusal of risk. What does this reaction tell us about our ancestors, about ourselves and our own choices?
What does it tell us about the fear that chases us on our fleeing from where we’re stuck to greater inner freedom.
“Imagine that you are in that chase scene,” I ask the Seder guests, well into our 2nd (really 4th) wine refill, “Who are you? What’s your reaction? What will you do?”
We get into it: One of us will fight, two will hide, two will pray, three will run ahead into the sea.
The conversation drifted to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the new government, Iran, Syria, religious extremism, digital overdose and global warming: what are our different reactions to crisis, to change, when danger is on us like a hostile army? As individuals, as nations? Are we like the ancient children of Israel sarcastic and fearful of the future or do we leap into the sea and risk it all for progress? Or somewhere in between?
Right from Seder (‘best ever’ tweeted by niece) into the supreme court drama in DC. It’s not exactly a chase scene but there’s bad guys and good guys, and whatever happens in these next weeks and months this is certainly another major milestone in the public liberation project of the American people. here, too, the reactions to major change, to the call for ‘exodus’ are telling – the choice to stick to familiar narratives and fears or go for a more complex but equalizing reality, with more dignity for all. The Phraonic forces are chasing, and who knows, in this version of the saga, they may still get the good guys. Like my father said – good guy doesn’t always win.
The chase is on.
Here’s hoping, praying, trusting that the good guys win, that not many get hurt in the chase, that progress will overcome the tyranny of terror.
Not just for James Bond, or for Moses, in blockbusters of biblical proportions and sacred myths of old – but also in courts of justice – i hope that our master stories will hopefully guide us to a much more promised land.
Happy Passover, Shabbat Shalom
Amichai Lau-Lavie is the Founder and Executive Director of Storahtelling, Inc. creating sustainable solutions for life-long Jewish Learning since 1999. storahtelling.org