2 central themes of Passover are:
- Compassion for others
The liberation theme is dominant, and has been an inspiration to others, particularly in the anti-slavery movement in the United States.
The compassion theme plays out in several aspects, including:
- We open the Seder by inviting all who are hungry to join us. [Obviously today this invitation is largely symbolic, but IMO it strongly affects our attitudes].
- The Bible frequently tells us to be kind to the stranger, the orphan, and the widow and then reminds us that we were strangers in Egypt.
- Several traditions instruct us that our happiness is incomplete because of the Egyptians who suffered and died while we achieved our freedom. [Note that this isn’t the same as being held responsible for that suffering].
IMO these complementary but sometimes competing themes are driving the two camps in the today’s health care debate. One side finds it unconscionable that there can be people without health care. Many on the other side are concerned with freedom both on the individual and on the national level. There’s a significant fear that the US is failing to be self sufficient and fiscally responsible and will be increasingly owned by China, Saudi Arabia, and others.
The same eternal themes continue to drive the development of individuals and societies. It is at times frustrating that the same stories can lead to opposite views on critical issues. But the US is in better shape than they sometimes realize. Americans agree on the values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights. America is the most charitable nation on Earth, and the first on the scene at disasters.
I’m proud to have been born in the United States and to be living in Israel.
I wish you all a Happy Passover, and may we all, from all nations and religions, spread the blessings of liberty and compassion.