Go Forth and Learn

Go forth and learn. All who have been oppressed can also oppress.

Sarah our mother oppressed her Egyptian maidservant Hagar. Sarah was barren and she wanted a child. She gave Hagar, her Egyptian maidservant, to Abraham as a wife. When Hagar conceived and became pregnant Sarah grew lesser in her eyes. So Sarah oppressed her and Hagar ran away, as it says:

V’ta’aneiha Sarai v’tivrach mipaneyha” (Genesis 16:6)

Go forth and learn: Pharaoh the Egyptian oppressed our people when they dwelled in Egypt.

The Israelites descended to Egypt and lived there. When then they became a nation – great, mighty and numerous – Pharaoh feared that the Egyptians would be overcome by the great multitudes of Israelites, so he decreed that every male child born to an Israelite woman be thrown into the Nile. And the Egyptians treated us harshly and oppressed us; they imposed hard labor on us as it says:

“Vayarei’u otanu mamitzvrim va’y’anunu va’yitnu aleinu avoda kasha.” (Deuteronomy 26:6)

This you should never forget: the same word used for Hagar’s oppression at the hands of Sarah is used for the Israelites’ oppression at the hands of the Egyptians.

This too you should never forget: The children of Israel were saved through the brave and righteous acts of two women: one Hebrew and one Egyptian. Miriam and the daughter of Pharaoh.

Go forth and learn: It is easier to oppress than to be free, “Until all of us are free none of us is free.” (Emma Lazarus, Epistle to the Hebrews)

The Journey Continues: The Ma’yan Haggadah can be purchased for $12 + $4 s/h by emailing Ma’yan, infomayan@mayan.org.

From: The Journey Continues: The Ma’yan Haggadah (Ma’yan, 2000)

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