Sephardic Haggadot write that in every generation each person must show themselves (לְהַרְאוֹת) as if they left Egypt. The requirement to “show” ourselves as slaves departing Egypt inspired the custom of many families re-enacting this story by dressing up. As a kid, I loved wrapping myself in linens and holding makeshift bundles in the form of pillowcases filled with Matzot as my siblings and I performed our own exodus at the Seder.
The impetus to show ourselves as slaves – to relive and perform the exodus – symbolizes Passover’s memory covenant. As Paolo Freire put it in his insightful Pedagogy of the Oppressed, true liberation occurs when human beings cease to think of themselves as objects of history and instead become subjects of history. On Passover, we ceased being the powerless objects of an Egyptian tyranny seemingly as constant as nature and became subjects of history – realizing that we could change our fate and embark on the long journey towards freedom.
Every Passover we recall and re-enact the Exodus and thus announce boldly that we remain subjects of history, imbued with the sacred and liberatory knowledge that we can and must partners with God to engage in action within this world in order to transform it.
Excerpted from Pictures Tell: A Passover Haggadah with photographs from around the Jewish world (Gefen Publishing, 2022)