Immigrants – They Get the Job Done: Shabbat Pesach I 2018

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: From where did your family originate? When did they arrive in the United States? When did they/you arrive in Charleston?

The hot-button topic of immigration is a central theme in the Passover seders we will observe tonight and tomorrow night:

The Pitch: “In every generation a person must regard himself as though he personally had gone out of Egypt, as it is said: ‘And you shall tell your son in that day, saying: “It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came forth out of Egypt.”‘” – Haggadah

Swing #1: “Due to your personal experience of such a status, you, better than anyone else, know that seeing that the oppression of strangers is a great wrong, the punishment for violating such a commandment is equally harsh.” – Rashbam

Swing #2: “Once the stranger accepts not to worship idolatry, you cannot oppress him in your country/land, because you are more powerful than him. … And the same way that the text reminds you that the stranger does not have power, so too the widow and the orphans, who are Israelites, have no power.” – Ibn Ezra

Swing #3: “I used to think that the most important line in the Bible was ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’. Then I realized that it is easy to love your neighbor because he or she is usually quite like yourself. What is hard is to love the stranger, one whose color, culture or creed is different from yours. That is why the command, ‘Love the stranger because you were once strangers’, resonates so often throughout the Bible. It is summoning us now. … Wars that cannot be won by weapons can sometimes be won by the sheer power of acts of humanitarian generosity to inspire the young to choose the way of peace instead of holy war.” – Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks

Late-Inning Questions: What do our commentators believe are the main challenges in loving the stranger? How must we overcome these challenges? To what extent does our obligation to love the stranger apply to legal immigrants? Illegal immigrants? Refugees?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: A big thank-you to our custodial staff for once again doing a fantastic job cleaning our synagogue so that we can be prepared to observe Passover. We invite you to come to our building and to enjoy the festivities.

The Big Inning at the End: With one game down, the Cubs are on a pace to finish 2018 with a 162-0 record. I can live with that. Wishing all of your teams similar (albeit not equal) success.

Shabbat Shalom, and Hag Kasher V’Sameach! Happy Passover!