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    I came out of Egypt

    Cairo airportI really did come out of Egypt.

    Looking for a route from Australia to Israel, my wife and I decided one year to go via Cairo. We took Qantas from Sydney to Cairo and then El Al to Israel. We had one day in Cairo, a story of its own; when we left we took one overwhelming memory of Egypt, that it was a place of history where what happened long ago (pyramids, Pharaohs, etc.) was of supreme importance.

    We landed at Ben Gurion Airport and encountered a contrast – life, bustle, today and tomorrow.

    We asked ourselves why the Mishnah says, as repeated in the Haggadah, “In every generation a person must regard himself as if he personally came out of Egypt” (Pes. 116b).

    A hint comes in a duality of rabbinic expressions – Pesach Mitzrayim and Pesach L’Atid, the Egyptian Passover and the Passover of the Future. The Mishnah is telling us to note both of them, to recall the historic bondage in Egypt and to acknowledge that there are so many people today whose lives are constrained and constricted.

    What is important is not just the suffering but the determination to rise above it and leave it behind.

    It is the Exodus, the going out, that really matters. Knowing that the Egyptian bondage came to an end inspires us with confidence that whatever bondage still occurs in the world will also come to an end.

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