The best way to understand the Jewish tradition is to dive fully into the primary sources that make up their religion. Over the course of storied Jewish history, texts have transformed along with understanding and law. As a religion primarily rooted in law and understanding of historical documents, knowing a Jew is as simple as picking up a document and reading their history, or so it would seem. The previously quoted text comes directly from the begging of the Maggid section of the Passover Seder, part of the Passover Haggadah. Within this text is a strong indication of what it means to be a Jew. Judaism is a timeless religion deeply rooted in tradition with strong foundations of community and scholastic interpretation.
Passover is an important time in the Jewish calendar year, and the reading of the Maggid from the Passover Haggadah is a required aspect of the Passover celebration. The first passage from the above quotation, “This is the bread… may be free!” (Alexander 75-76) clearly expresses community and a connection to history. These words, said aloud at the outset of the Passover celebration serve two purposes. First, they serve as the repetition of history. This statement is similar to that which would have been said by the Israelites upon their delivery out of the land of Egypt. “This is the bread of poverty which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt…” (Alexander 75). Now one would recognize that this isn’t read as the same physical bread, but spiritually speaking it is the representation of the gift of God to the first free Israelites. The connection of Jews to their long and documented history is immediately striking. Not only do they remember that their ancestors had eaten brea...
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...er Haggadah illuminate a religious tradition unlike any other. Supported by strength in community and an overwhelming comprehension of history and law from millennia of intense study, Judaism is a timeless religion that connects Jews of all ages and social standing across time. The exodus from Israel marks the origin of the Jew, and so it is only appropriate that each year Jews gather to return to the land of Egypt. Under the unjust rule of the pharaoh, they find their ancestors, their fathers, their children, and themselves, waiting for God’s promise to deliver them to freedom.
Alexander, Phillip S. Textual Sources for the Study of Judaism. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 1984.
The New Oxford Annotated Bible. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Glatzer, Nahum N. The Judaic Tradition. West Orange, N.J.: Behrman House, Inc. 1969.
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