Freedom is within our grasp, and Pesach reminds us that we need to reach. – Bradley Shavit Artson

  1. Passover is, above everything, the commemoration of the great Deliverance—a deliverance which transformed a horde of slaves into a people. It is, then, Israel’s birthday. From one point of view it is the greatest of all the historical festivals. No other brings the Israelite into such close touch with his people’s past. No other so powerfully appeals to his historic sympathies. He is one, for the moment, with his ransomed fathers; he shares with them the proud consciousness of the free, the dignified sense of nationality that is beginning to stir in their hearts. He shares their glowing hopes, the sweet joy of newly recovered manhood. – Morris Joseph, “Passover,” Judaism as Creed and Life
  2. The main objective of the Seder, the first night of Passover, is to educate to freedom…. This is true freedom: Our ability to shape reality. We have the power to initiate, create and change reality rather than only react and survive it. How can we all educate our children to true freedom? Teach them not to look at reality as defining their acts but to look at their acts as defining reality…. That’s education to freedom; that’s the message of the Seder.” – Yaacov Cohen, “Can You Educate to Freedom?”
  3. I do not want followers who are righteous, rather I want followers who are too busy doing good that they won’t have time to do bad. – Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
  4. Ransomed people went forth to a sane and wholesome life, to a life of brave and large ideals. – Morris Joseph, “Passover,” Judaism as Creed and Life
  5. Because I was born a slave, I love liberty more than you. – Ludwig Börne (1786–1837)
  6. In each generation every individual is obliged to feel as though he or she personally came out of Egypt…. Therefore we are obliged to thank, praise, laud, glorify, and exalt, to honor, bless, extol, and adore Him who performed all these wonders for our ancestors and for us: He brought us out of slavery into freedom, out of sorrow into joy, out of mourning into a holiday, out of darkness into daylight, and out of bondage into redemption. Let us then sing before Him a new song: Halleluyah! – The Passover Haggadah
  7. Among the many meals of the spiritual year, the evening meal of the Passover at which the father of the household gathers together all his family is the meal of meals…. From the very start the word “freedom” sheds its light upon it. The freedom of this meal at which all are equally free is expressed in a number of of rites which “distinguish this night from all nights”…. No one who is there in flesh shall be excluded in spirit. The freedom of a society is always the freedom of everyone who belongs to it…. The father of the family speaks, the household listens, and only in the further course of the evening is there more and more common independence until, in the songs of praise and the table songs of the second part of the meal, songs which float between divine mystery and the jesting mood begot by wine, the last shred of autocracy in the order of the meal dissolves into community. – Franz Rosenzweig (1886–1929), translated from German by Francis C. Golffing
  8. Passover and Easter are the only Jewish and Christian holidays that move in sync, like the ice skating pairs we saw during the winter Olympics. – Marvin Olasky
  9. As a young boy growing up near Boston, Massachusetts, I looked forward to two things every spring: Passover and opening day of baseball season. Two things that I loved more than anything were being with my family at the seders and being with 33,000 other Red Sox fans at Fenway Park…. My caring so deeply for the Red Sox is what taught me how to care for the Torah and other important things…. That caring also helped me to understand how God feels about us and how painful it must be for God to watch when we strike out. Loving the Red Sox also helped me to love other people. If the love of a sports team can bring so many different types of people together, simply because they happen to live near the same city, that teaches us that we’re not that different after all. – Joshua Hammerman, “The Red Sox Blow the Pennant on Simẖat Torah,” I Have Some Questions About God, edited by Joel Lurie Grishaver, 2002
  10. As for the bitter herbs…. To see everyone with tears coursing down their faces, laughing and gasping at the same time, is fun and also makes the point — bitter herbs must be really bitter to experience the suffering… – Julia Neuberger, On Being Jewish, 1995
  11. For the meal so simple, so meagre, rallies about it as of yore the members of the family, and with them their enthusiasm for the ancient faith. The scattered, even the indifferent, answer to the call of the Passover. The Paschal rite still knits the hearts of Israel together, still fills them with the consciousness that they are one brotherhood. And under the magical influence of its simple emblems the past lives again, with all its griefs and joys, its humiliations and its triumphs; the heart swells with gratitude for the ever memorable Deliverance; it beats high with hope for the future of Israel. – Morris Joseph, “Passover,” Judaism as Creed and Life
  12. Further, the Passover affirms the great truth that liberty is the inalienable right of every human being…. Pharaoh enslaved a whole race, and was chastised for his crime by the Divine Hand. But in thus intervening between the slave and his oppressor the Almighty fixed His canon against slavery for all time. He thereby declared that every human being has the right to the freedom which will enable him to develop to the utmost all the powers of body, of mind, of soul, with which God has endowed him; and that slavery, therefore, with its debasing effects upon the intellect and the character, is a sin against the laws of God himself. – Morris Joseph, “Passover,” Judaism as Creed and Life
  13. Get rid of the old leaven of sin so that you may be a new batch of dough — as you really are. – Bible, I Corinthians 5:7
  14. If you must hate, if hatred is the leaven of your life, which alone can give flavor, then hate what should be hated: falsehood, violence, selfishness. – Ludwig Börne (1786–1837), The Eternal Jew
  15. Jews who long have drifted from the faith of their fathers… are stirred in their inmost parts when the old, familiar Passover sounds chance to fall upon their ears. – Heinrich Heine (1797–1856), Der Rabbi Von Bacharach
  16. Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the Passover to purify themselves.” – John 11:55
  17. Passover affirms the great truth that liberty is the inalienable right of every human being.” – Morris Joseph
  18. Passover has a message for the conscience and the heart of all mankind. For what does it commemorate? It commemorates the deliverance of a people from degrading slavery, from most foul and cruel tyranny. And so, it is Israel’s – nay, God’s protest against unrighteousness, whether individual or national.” –Morris Joseph
  19. Passover is one of my favorite times of the year. This is when the whole community and family gets together to remember who we are and why we are here. – Jennifer Wanger
  20. Passover is our tradition, and I like to keep up with that. Our ancestors couldn’t eat bread, and it’s nice for us to celebrate that every year by going through their struggles.” — Marsha Cohen
  21. Pesach without children is like a cantor without a song, like an actor without any lines, or a storyteller without an audience. – Joe Bobker, And You Thought There Were Only Four: 400 Questions to Make Your Seder Enlightening, Educational and Enjoyable, 2006
  22. The bread of freedom is a hard bread. The contrast between bread and matzo possibly points the contrast between the lush Nile civilization that the Jews left behind them on the first Passover and the gray rubbled desert in which they came into their identity….Leavening, then, would represent in this image the corruption of slave life. But the symbol has ramifications. The rabbis called the passions of man “the yeast in the dough.” Leaven is a strange and pervasive substance. It is alive; it is immortal; it is impalpably everywhere in the air; it ferments grain into bread, and grapes into wine; it is the sour whitish paradigm of the stuff of life itself. For one week in the springtime, in the time of seeding and growth, when the Jews celebrate their independence, they cut all trace of leaven from their lives. No one has ever wholly accounted for this vibrant symbol. – Herman Wouk, This Is My God
  23. The Israelites were free not only from the degradation of bondage, but from its agony. They were safe from the taskmaster’s cruel whip. They were delivered from the fetters of despair. This thought intensifies the effect of the Passover. We feel all the suffering of our dead ancestors. We share their burdens with them. But we hear too the fateful signal which proclaims that the hour of their redemption has struck; we march forth with them from the scenes of oppression in gladness and gratitude…. So indestructible is the effect wrought by these moving episodes of a bygone day! – Morris Joseph, “Passover,” Judaism as Creed and Life
  24. The message of Passover remains as powerful as ever. Freedom is won not on the battlefield but in the classroom and the home. Teach your children the history of freedom if you want them never to lose it. – Jonathan Sacks
  25. The point of cleaning for Pesach is to remember that we are leaving Egypt, leaving the things that constrict us spiritually. – Shimon Raichik
  26. The religious act is done reverently and lovingly in gratitude for the ancient Redemption, and thus becomes a type of the deep religious emotion with which that memorable event ever fills the pious heart. – Morris Joseph, “Passover,” Judaism as Creed and Life
  27. The Seder is long, but delightful, and no matter how sleepy we feel at the end of it we are very happy. – Aunt Naomi
  28. The willingness to sacrifice is the prelude to freedom. The first step in the struggle to lift the yoke of bondage must be marked with the blood of idealism — of idealistic men and women who are willing to make the sacrifice that the realization of freedom requires. Liberty is not achieved by complacency; it is not won without suffering the scars of battle. It is accomplished by selflessness and sacrifice; it is won by courageous action. – Alfred J. Kolatch (1916–2007), The Family Seder: A Traditional Passover Haggadah for the Modern Home, 1972
  29. Then Moses said to the people, ‘Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the Lord brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast. – Exodus 13:3
  30. There on the Seder table, /      In the quiet dining room,/       The symbols of the service/       Talked in the twilight gloom…./ Then silence fell for a moment;/       But sweet as a bell’s clear note, /      Came a voice that thrilled the twilight /      From the candlestick’s hollow throat./ “I gleam for the Sabbath and feast days,/       The prayers o’er me never cease!/       I shine for the truth of Israel, /       And always I speak of peace!”/ “Peace!” whispered the Seder symbols—/       “Gone are the sufferings and thrall!”/       And like a benediction /      Peace settled over all. – Hadassah, “On the Seder Table,” 1917
  31. This is the significance of the Passover for the Israelite. But it has a message also for the conscience and the heart of all mankind…. God’s protest against unrighteousness, whether individual or national. Wrong, it declares, may triumph for a time, but even though it be perpetrated by the strong on the weak, it will meet with its inevitable retribution at last…. This is a truth which mankind has still to lay to heart even in these days. The world is thousands of years older than it was when the first Passover was celebrated; but the lessons taught by the ancient Deliverance retain their original force. – Morris Joseph, “Passover,” Judaism as Creed and Life
  32. This is true freedom: Our ability to shape reality. We have the power to initiate, create and change reality rather than only react and survive it. How can we all educate our children to true freedom? Teach them not to look at reality as defining their acts but to look at their acts as defining reality. – Yaacov Cohen
  33. To keep green, then, the memory of the Exodus was for the Israelite not only to keep his gratitude to his Divine Redeemer ever fresh, but to ratify again and again his covenant with his religion. – Morris Joseph, “Passover,” Judaism as Creed and Life
  34. Today, Passover is a festival of freedom….Passover remains relevant and contemporary, while at the same time a ritual several thousand years old…. The content—at least some of it—is flexible and determined by the participants at specific celebrations. Thus, the holy day is still meaningful to younger generations, because it allows for creative input and participation. It breathes. – Jack Santino, “Winter into Spring: Celebrating Rebirth and Renewal,” All Around the Year: Holidays and Celebrations in American Life
  35. Today, Passover is used as an opportunity to reflect on the things that plague our world, to seek justice for the still-oppressed and even to bring together multi-faiths family and friends under the common banner of universal freedom. – “Passover 2011: The Unleavened Basics,” Huffington Post
  36. Unleavened Bread… the emblem of the Israelites’ suffering in Egypt and the symbol of the haste—that is, the joyous eagerness—which marked their departure. When we eat the Unleavened Bread on the Festival we, in a sense, eat the bread of sorrow with our toiling, suffering ancestors, and for the moment share the sorrow itself. – Morris Joseph, “Passover,” Judaism as Creed and Life
  37. What is national freedom if not a people’s inner freedom to cultivate its abilities along the beaten path of its history? – Aẖad Haʿam, 1902

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