Short Memory of 300 Years
Long Memory of Over 3,000 years
The coronavirus pandemic has forced Jewish families to limit the celebratory Pesach seders from extended families and friends to minimal, one-household affairs.
But the pandemic has not cut the connection that we, as people, from different backgrounds, feel to one of our calendar’s most important holidays.
Actually, for many of us, the global crisis has deepened the meaning of this holiday.
When we recite from the Haggadah:
הָשַׁתָּא הָכָא, לְשָׁנָה הַבָּאָה בְּאַרְעָא דְיִשְׂרָאֵל
הָשַׁתָּא עַבְדֵי, לְשָׁנָה הַבָּאָה בְּנֵי חוֹרִין
‘This year we are enslaved – next year we will be free,’ this aspiration is very real this year!
Remembering our common roots and history can help us stay united and strong and overcome these challenging times.
Below is an excerpt from the speech David Ben Gurion made in front of the Peel Commission in 1936 that demonstrates his perception of the nature of Jewish people.
For background, the Peel Commission occurred during the British Mandate over Palestine. After a series of Arab attacks against the Jews, the British attempted to extricate themselves from this nutcracker of Arab violence and Jewish pressure by establishing a commission to study the problem, appointing Lord Peel as its chairman.
Lord Peel’s arrival at the Peel Commission, 1936
Under the shadow of Hitler’s rise in Germany, England floated a trial balloon in the form of a partition plan. The proposed Jewish section would have consisted of tiny, barely visible slivers and could never become a viable national entity.
But while the Jews were displeased by the Peel Commission Report, the Arabs were even more outraged, and violence again spread throughout the country.
Ben Gurion’s speech was given in the midst of the commission, well before its conclusions:
“300 years ago, there came to the New World a boat, and its name was the Mayflower. The Mayflower’s landing on Plymouth Rock was one of the significant historical events in the history of England and in the history of America.
But I would like to ask any Englishman sitting here on the commission:
- What day did the Mayflower leave port?
- What date was it?
- I’d like to ask the Americans: do they know what date the Mayflower left port in England?
- How many people were on the boat?
- Who were their leaders?
- What kind of food did they eat on the boat?
“More than 3300 years ago, long before the Mayflower, our people left Egypt, and every Jew in the world, wherever he is, knows what day they left.
- And he knows what food they ate.
- And we still eat that food every anniversary.
- And we know who our leader was.
- And we sit down and tell the story to our children and grandchildren in order to guarantee that it will never be forgotten.
- And we say our two slogans: ‘Now we may be enslaved, but next year, we’ll be a free people.’
“. . . Now we are behind the Soviet Union and their prison. Now, we’re in Germany where Hitler is destroying us. Now we’re scattered throughout the world, but next year, we’ll be in Jerusalem. There’ll come a day that we’ll come home to Zion, to the Land of Israel. That is the nature of the Jewish people.”
This is how Ben Gurion saw the nature of our nation.
Our Sages stated that one of the reasons for the redemption from Egypt was that we did not change “our tongue” and continued to communicate in Hebrew.
Hebrew is the broadest common denominator of our people:
It is above any affiliation, denomination, political or religious association, Zionism, etc.…
It “speaks” for itself, and we are here for you to help you master it quickly while enjoying the process.
This year, among numerous online activities around the world, we are helping hundreds of “Masa Israel Journey” participants, who were cut off their regular voluntary activities to acquire Hebrew is just ten lessons.
Below are two video clips depicting their experience:
We, at Ulpan-Or are doing our best to provide any assistance possible on our end.
This year we would like to offer you Ulpan-Or’s Interactive media-rich online Haggadah with many commentaries and Hebrew insights FOR FREE.
Some of you had difficulty accessing it using the link we provided in our last post.
Please access it now using the direct link below
and get it FOR FREE at:
We wish all of those who have been affected by the outbreak of the coronavirus to come back to a normal, healthy life very soon.
Wishing you and your loved ones a peaceful, meaningful, happy, and healthy Holiday of Pesach.
Yoel & Orly
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