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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Obama's Pesach message: No God, No Jerusalem, No Israel

President Obama delivered a Pesach (Passover) message that somehow managed to avoid mentioning God, Jerusalem or Israel.
Obama's letter read: "This evening, Jewish individuals, families, and their friends in America, Israel, and around the world will gather around the Seder table to celebrate the sacred festival of Passover.

"With rich symbols, rituals, and traditions, they will tell the story of the Exodus – the journey of the children of Israel from slavery to freedom, from grief to joy, from darkness to light, and from suffering to redemption."

In the spirit of the season and on the backdrop of the US's diplomatic efforts to launch proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Obama expressed in his letter hope that lessons from the Exodus from Egypt may be learned.

"The enduring story of the Exodus teaches us that, wherever we live, there is oppression to be fought and freedom to be won. In retelling this story from generation to generation, we are reminded of our ongoing responsibility to fight against all forms of suffering and discrimination, and we reaffirm the ties that bind us all," he wrote.

The US president ended his letter saying, "My family and I send our warmest wishes for a joyous and meaningful Passover."
Obama's concept of the 'lessons from the Exodus from Egypt' is so obtuse, it must be answered lest silence be interpreted as acquiescence.

The lesson of the Exodus from Egypt is that God came and redeemed His people from bondage because, as the Rabbis tell us, "they did not change their names [to Egyptian names] and they did not change their language [to Egyptian]." Instead, the Jews maintained their unique identity throughout the 210 years of bondage in Egypt, and as a reward God gave them two mitzvoth (commandments) to perform (circumcision and the sacrifice of the Paschal lamb). Our reward for performing those mitzvoth was that God redeemed the Jews from Egypt.

There was no 'oppression to fought' or 'freedom to be won.' As the Hagaddah relates the story, God himself (not through an angel or a spirit or a messenger, but God himself) came to Egypt and redeemed our forefathers from Egyptian bondage. This had nothing to do with 'suffering and discrimination' in the sense that Westerners think of those words. The story of the Exodus from Egypt is a Jewish story and not a universal one. That's one reason why any Pesach message that omits God is false. It was God who took us out of Egypt. We did not take ourselves out.

But there's more. After three years of making a 'seder' Obama has somehow managed to avoid learning the meaning of the song 'Dayenu,' which is one of the high points of the seder, and is almost universally sung (and not just said). Let's look at its verses and see why the main points of the seder are God, Israel and Jerusalem.

The word Dayenu means "it would have been enough for us [to celebrate]."

There are fifteen stanzas in Dayenu. The first five deal with God's destroying the false gods of Egypt. The next five deal with the miracles that God performed for us after he took us out of Egypt. The final five stanzas discuss why God took us out of Egypt. God took us out of Egypt because we are obligated to do five things for Him:

To observe the Sabbath, which testifies that God created the Heavens and the earth.

To accept His Torah, which He gave to us at the Revelation at Mount Sinai (celebrated seven weeks from now).

To keep and study His Torah.

To live in His land, the Land of Israel.

To build His Temple (in Jerusalem) and to perform the sacrifices there.

When God punished the Jews by destroying the Temple, the last two items were partially taken away from us. While we are still commanded to live in Israel (which is a Rabbinic commandment today rather than a Torah commandment according to most sources) and we are commanded to pray three times a day in lieu of the sacrifices, we no longer have these commandments in their original form. The other commandments remain, because the Sabbath and the Torah are our connection to God and God remains with us even in exile.

I would not expect Obama to known about the Sabbath (although he did once act as a Shabbes goy for an office mate) or the Torah, but one who bothers to learn the words Chag Sameyach in Hebrew ought to be able to figure out that without God, Israel and Jerusalem (the Temple), there is no purpose to Passover and there is nothing to celebrate. Without God, Israel and Jerusalem, Pesach becomes like a White House seder - a meaningless ritual in which one goes through the motions without any idea of what they mean.


At 12:05 PM, Blogger Nate Nelson said...

One small correction: He did mention Israel. Otherwise I completely agree with you. None of this is surprising from a man who has his own messiah complex.

At 1:08 PM, Blogger BernardZ said...

Read again Obama words,

"there is oppression to be fought and freedom to be won."

Obama thinks himself Moses.

At 6:23 PM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

Obama is a typical muslim in that he is trying to purloin(steal) Jewish history and culture for his blood-thirsty cult.

muslims already say that Abraham, Moses and Noah are arab muslim prophets!

Islam stole our history and our land and is still stealing our land!

At 8:02 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israel without Jerusalem is like a body without a heart and Jerusalem without G-d is not really a holy city. Of course Obama doesn't really understand how the Jews relate to Jerusalem and to G-d and it shows it in his Pesach message.

At 10:59 PM, Blogger Gail F said...

Hello from someone who found your blog today -- what a great post. How in the world could Obama completely misunderstand Passover? I don't think it's deliberate, I think it is just a secular mindset that believes things mean whatever you want them to mean.

I am a Catholic and of course we believe very different things about Passover, but I know very well what Jews believe. The President, who is supposedly a Christian, ought to know what both Jews and Christians believe about it, but he doesn't seem to know or care. The strangest thing is that he doesn't seem to have any idea that other people would find this disturbing.

At 7:49 PM, Blogger Rondo said...

Only reason Obama celebrates Pesach is so he can lean more to the left.


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