The Parasha this week starts off with the eighth of the ten plagues, the plague of Locusts. The 10th plague, the slaying of the first born, comes later in the reading. What we read at this point is something quite separate from the narrative of the story. From verse 12 onwards we are given 20 commandments; from the establishment of a calendar via the commandments for Pesach and on to the commandment of Tefillin. Rashi thought that the Torah should have commenced at this spot.
Moses does not talk to us about freedom but on three occasions he tells us to talk to our children. Freedom lies in what we teach our children. He talks about a time when our children will ask:
What does this service mean to you?
And we are to reply:
you shall tell your son on that day…..
זָכ֞וֹר אֶת־הַיּ֤וֹם הַזֶּה֙ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יְצָאתֶ֤ם מִמִּצְרַ֨יִם֙
Remember this day, on which you went free from Egypt
This year Holocaust Remembrance Day is just behind us. On the 8th April we will celebrate Pesach and Yom Ha Shoah is on 21st April.
Remembrance and teaching are the fundamentals of Judaism. It began here as we took on the mitzvot. We survived, buoyed up by our memories and our faith. After all our trials, we represent the conscience of the world; but we underpin this with a vision of hope.