4 Questions on Modern Liberation and Solidarity

By Solomon Hoffman

We re-tell the story of Passover each year during the course of our seder, delving into an experience that can feel distant and ancient. Many haggadot express the importance of telling this story in each generation, so that we will continue to appreciate the miracle of liberation. We are reminded of our experience in Egypt throughout the Torah, as we are called to treat others better because of what we have experienced. With this tradition and these reminders, it is clear that this story is meant to inspire action in whatever time and place we find ourselves in.

"Once we were slaves in Egypt, now we are free people."

 Question 1: What does “freedom” look like for us today? Are there any freedoms which are under attack?

 "You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress them, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." (Exodus 22:21)

 Question 2: What groups of people still face oppression in our society today? Who might we consider “strangers?” How can we build and strengthen bonds between disparate communities so we no longer feel that our neighbors are strangers?

 “Do not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, for once you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus, 23:9)

Question 3: Reminding ourselves of our liberation from Egypt taps into our communal experience of oppression as a way to remind us not to participate in it. How can we do better at knowing the “heart of the stranger?” What can we do to amplify the voices of the vulnerable in our society and make sure their stories are heard?

“But the stranger that dwells with you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus, 19:34)

 Question 4: What actions are required so that we move from “knowing the heart of a stranger” to “loving the stranger as ourselves”? How can that question guide us in being effective allies and showing solidarity with groups that are currently facing oppression?