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Haggadah: “Becoming Parents” From The Diary of a Former Slave

We were accustomed to Moshe’s favorite expression, “And there’s more.” We enjoyed, even thrived, the sense that God would ask us to do things that would make us more important to ourselves. We felt that God was healing us from the years of slavery.


It was even more interesting to observe how comfortable we were becoming in speaking up and asking questions – something we could never do when we were slaves. My very shy neighbor rose and voiced an unacknowledged concern that had been haunting the back of my brain, “Rebbi, all of us gathered here in the CCC (Cairo Convention Center) feel wonderful, confident, free, excited for the future. When we return to our homes, people won’t understand. Especially our children. How can we convey these ideas to our kids? How will we explain the different meaning of each of your instructions? They will ask us why we feel so different because of these commandments”

Someone else spoke up and said, “Maybe your kids is some kind of scholar, but my kids won’t even pay attention. Their minds have been so dulled by the slavery that they won’t say a word!”

Another man rose and said, “My son will look at me as an alien. I can imagine him saying, “What is this?”

One person stood to say, “My son is so resentful of me because of the slavery that he will be cynical of the whole thing.” We were all silent. We knew exactly what he meant.

Moshe remained silent for a few moments as we all wondered about our children. We were sad, almost depressed, until one man giggled. “Are you nuts?”

Moshe took him seriously, “Why are you laughing?”

“Listen to us. We are all speaking as parents, real parents who teach their children. I can’t remember my parents ever teaching me. I would never have thought to ask questions of them. They were too exhausted and depressed from the work. I began working as a small child. I never even thought of thinking. Here we are now discussing what parents should say to children who are asking questions. We have a story to tell. A great story. Don’t you realize that everything has changed?”

I promise you that it was like Yom Kippur in the Beit Hamikdash: absolutely everyone prostrated himself on the ground to God in joyful gratitude; we had become real parents.

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