“Of course I am afraid, because the transformation of silence into language and action is an act of self-revelation, and that always seems fraught with danger. . .”
-Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider
We are commanded to remember the Exodus from Egypt by telling the story year after year, by passing it down through the generations and by making space for questions.
The Zohar teaches,”Speech suffered exile in Egypt . . . Moses wanted all along to take words out of exile.” (Zohar, II:25b).
Egypt was a place of stunted speech, where the Israelites were not free to speak their stories. Finding our voice is an essential part of our story of liberation and it is through language that we fashion our identity as a free people. The rabbis play with the name of the holiday Pesach, breaking it into two words, Peh (mouth) Sach (speaking). This Pesach, how can we use our powers of expression to bring us closer to personal and collective redemption?
This Shabbat, as we reach for redemption, we are thinking of our siblings in Israel who are rising up and calling out for the sake of democracy and an independent judiciary as our beloved homeland approaches her 75th birthday. Our hearts ache for our Jewish community in the United States in the midst of a year of unprecedented anti-Jewish hate. We weep for the children and adults who died this week in a mass shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, in a year in which there have been more mass shootings than days.
Through all of this, we pray for the courage to turn silence into action so that the rivers of grief may give way, so that we may choose life, so that our people and all people may live and thrive.
As we go out of Egypt together, may Shabbat and Pesach bring us the insight and the courage to transform silence into language and action.