PASSOVER – A MATTER OF NATIONAL IDENTITY

dbgThe story goes that In 1954 (the year I was born), when David Ben Gurion was serving as Israel’s Prime Minister, he traveled to the USA to meet with President Eisenhower to request his assistance and support during the early and difficult days of the State of Israel.

John Foster Dulles, who was the then secretary of state, confronted Ben Gurion and challenged him as follows: “Tell me, Mr. Prime Minister – who do you and your state represent? Does it represent the Jews of Poland, perhaps Yemen, Romania, Morocco, Iraq, Russia or perhaps Brazil? After 2,000 years of exile, can you honestly speak about a single nation, a single culture? Can you speak about a single heritage or perhaps a single Jewish tradition?”

Ben Gurion answered him as follows: “Look, Mr. Secretary of State – approximately 300 years ago the Mayflower set sail from England and on it were the first settlers who settled in what would become the largest democratic superpower known as the United States of America. Now, do me a favor – go out into the streets and find 10 American children and ask them the following:

1- What was the name of the Captain of the Mayflower?
2- How long did the voyage take?
3- What did the people who were on the ship eat?
4- What were the conditions of sailing during the voyage?

I’m sure you would agree with me that there is a good chance that you won’t get a good answer to these questions.

Now in contrast – not 300, but rather more than 3,000 years ago, the Jews left the land of Egypt. I would kindly request from you, Mr. Secretary, that on one of your trips around the world, try and meet 10 Jewish children in different countries and ask them the following:

1- What was the name of the leader who took the Jews out of Egypt?
2- How long did it take them before they got to the promised land of Israel?
3- What did they eat during the period when they were wandering in the desert?
4- And what happened to the sea when they crossed it?

Once you get the answers to these questions, Mr., Secretary, please reconsider the question that you have just asked me!” End quote.
(Regarding the authenticity of this story: The Ben Gurion quote is apparently accurate, but the connection to Dulles is not confirmed though his anti-Semitic views are widely known)

JEWS ARE COMMANDED by the Word of God to re-tell and rehearse the story of the Passover from year to year “throughout their generations.” And while Christians and Messianic Jewish Believers recognize the account as a prophetic portrayal of the ultimate and final sacrifice of the Messiah, the Lamb of God, as the only way for salvation and deliverance, Passover’s story serves as the backbone of Jewish national identity for over 3,500 years.

The account of the slavery in Egypt, the miraculous Exodus and the 40 year journey to the Promised Land provide the narrative that defines the uninterrupted Jewish national identity as a people called (and rescued) by God’s own sovereign design.

And the fact, as David Ben Gurion correctly noted, that every Jewish kid can instinctively recite the name of Moses, the story of the Exodus, the blood of the Lamb, the Unleavened Bread and Manna diet, the 40 year desert journey and the opening of the Red Sea, demonstrates the undeniable reality that this nation, while enduring extended exile and prolonged sufferings, is indeed a nation before God with all of the rights, privileges and obligations that entails.

Or, as the Word of God says, “This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar — the LORD Almighty is his name: ‘Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,’ declares the LORD, ‘will Israel ever cease being a nation before me.’ declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 31:35-36.

 

Stay blessed,

Reuven Doron

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