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Op-Ed: The Impact of Passover on US Democracy

A global inspiration for the concept of liberty.
Published: Tuesday, April 10, 2007 11:54 PM


Passover has been a global inspiration for the concept of liberty.

The Exodus from Egypt inspired the Puritans, the Pilgrims and the American Founding Fathers. They considered themselves "the modern day Israelites," King George III "the modern-day Pharaoh," the Atlantic "the modern-day Red Sea," and America "the
Moses has become a role model of leadership and national liberation.
modern-day Promised Land." Jefferson, Adams and Franklin considered a proposal for the great seal featuring the parting of the sea with the inscription: "Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to G-d."

The term "federalism" - based on foedus, the Latin word for “The Covenant” - was coined by the Founding Fathers, who considered themselves “the Modern-Day People of the Covenant.” John Locke, Roger Williams, Thomas Paine and Simon Howard considered the Laws of Moses and the structure of the 12 Tribes - sustaining semi-independence, governed by Moses, Aharon, Joshua and the 70-person legislature - a model for the American political system in general, and for “Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness” in particular.

Moses has become a role model of leadership and national liberation, greatly impacting US democracy, hence his marble replica at the House Chamber on Capitol Hill and at the US Supreme Court (where he is portrayed holding the Ten Commandments). Moses’ concept of Jubilee - which stipulated the return of land to its original owners and the freeing of slaves - constitutes another pivot of liberty. It inspired the anti-slavery movement, including Harriet Beecher Stowe (Uncle Tom’s Cabin) and it has been inscribed on the Liberty Bell, "Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants thereof." (Leviticus, 25:10) According to Henry George, a top 19th-century economist - who opposed taxation except for that on land, and who was a student of the Torah and the author of Moses, The Law Giver - the Jubilee was Moses' way of combating monopoly.

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, told the UN Commission of Inquiry in 1947:

"300 years ago, the ‘Mayflower’ launched its historical voyage. How many remember the data of the voyage, how many passengers were on the Mayflower and what kind of bread did they consume? However, 3,300 years earlier, the Exodus from Egypt took place.
Jews have been targeted by enemies of liberty.
Every Jew knows the date of the Exodus - 15th of the month of Nissan - and the kind of bread - matzah - consumed. Until today, Jews all over the world tell the story of the Exodus and eat matzah on the 15th of Nissan. They conclude the story of the Exodus with a statement: 'This year we're slaves, but next year we shall be liberated; this year we're here, but next year in Jerusalem.' "

As documented by the chronicles of Passover, the Exodus set the Jewish Nation on the Road Map to a specific site (and not just to liberation) - the Land of Israel.

Jews have been targeted by enemies of liberty - from Pharaoh, Nazism, Communism through Arab-Islamic terrorism and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - because Jews have been rightly perceived as the originators the idea of liberty as a G-d-given natural right, independent of any human being.