I may have been born into a Roman Catholic family, but growing up around New York City means that a lot of your friends aren’t. So every year for Passover I spent the evening at my friend’s house, listening to the story of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt and enjoying the fine cooking of his grandparents (holocaust survivors with some serious kitchen skills). Because after all, we all came out of Egypt — some of us just decided to worship a guy that looks like Ted Nugent strapped to a piece of wood later on. It was always a fun evening, a true celebration of the end of the Jews’ suffering. But it wasn’t until years later that I realized the true significance of the night . . .
The hardships that the Jews faced during their years of slavery in Egypt were bad. It was an existence so terrible that they’d rather wander in the desert for 40 years than go back and face that same fate again. And the moment they escaped from bondage, the day they finally were freed from slavery, is so treasured that it’s still celebrated every single year.
But the Passover seder isn’t just a celebration — its a warning to future generations.
When the Jews were in captivity in Egypt, they had no means of effecting an escape on their own. They were at the mercy of their Egyptian rulers. And, specifically, their rulers’ army. They, the defenseless Jews, were in bondage because the Egyptian army had a monopoly on the weaponry of the day and would cut them down if the Jews took so much as a step toward the boder. It was only through a series of miracles, the divine intervention of G-d himself and a show of force against the Egyptians that they were finally able to make their exodus.
The lesson to take away from Passover isn’t that G-d is on the side of the Jews and will bail them out whenever they are in trouble, but instead that we should never forget what happened and strive to keep from getting into that same situation. That a situation where the ruling class has all of the power and the workers have no means to protect themselves inevitably leads to abuse and terror. In today’s world, that means defending the right of the common man to own a firearm.
This is a lesson that’s being lost these days. The celebration is still there, but the warning is being drowned out. Even after being reenforced by the events of the middle of last century, we aren’t heeding the warning that history is trying to tell us. Too many would allowing Pharaoh and his men to disarm us, to create that monopoly on power that put the Jews in slavery those many years ago.
And this time, I don’t know if we can count on a pillar of fire — let alone a few billion frogs — to hold of Pharaoh’s men at bay while we cross the sea. Unless, of course, we bring our own 30-round magazines full.