Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Merging Generations

"We were slaves of the Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord our God brought us forth from there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. If the Holy One, Blessed be He, had not brought forth our ancestors from Egypt, then we and our children's children, and our children's children, would still be enslaved to Pharaoh in Egypt. Therefore, even if we are all learned and wise, all elders and fully versed in the Torah, it is our duty nonetheless to retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. And the more one dwells on the Exodus in Egypt, the more is one to be praised."

"In every generation one must see oneself as though having personally come forth from Egypt, as it is written: And you shall tell your child on that day, This is done because of what the Lord did for me when I came forth from Egypt."

-both above quotations taken from the Passover Haggadah

To speak as though we are not entirely distinct from our ancestors goes against the expectations set by a contemporary culture saturated with the ideal of the individual.

And yet, for all my love of my own individuality, I can't help but feel that human beings are not made to be alone, that we need the people we have come from and who continue to speak in our voices, gestures, inclinations, that it does us good to speak sometimes in words that have passed the lips of our forbears from long before the times when our oldest living forbears were born.

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