Wednesday night began the holiday of Pesach or Passover. This holiday celebrates our escape from Egyptian slavery. With it, there’s many fun traditions, interesting foods and a plethora of songs. Also with Passover comes a retelling of this story in the parshah:
On the first day of Passover, we read from Exodus 12:21 to 12:51. These verses entail a description of the Passover Offering in Egypt, the Plague of the Firstborn – which occurred at the stroke of midnight – and the Israelites being delivered from Egypt on that same day.
The Passover Offering refers to how, when Moses learned of the Plague of the Firstborn, he instructed each Jewish family to slaughter a lamb. The Plague of the Firstborn was the last of the ten plagues G-D brought onto the Egyptians. In this plague, the firstborn male of each Egyptian family would be killed. G-D would send the Angel of Death to every household to complete this. In order to signal which households were Jewish and which weren’t, the Israelites were instructed to smear the blood of the sacrificed lambs on their doorposts.
This would have been a huge statement in ancient Egypt, as ancient Egyptians considered lambs to be very holy. For the slaves of the country to outright disrespect the culture of their oppressors would have been revolutionary. Imagine the sight of sacrificed lambs in the Jewish neighborhoods, their blood smeared on the doorposts as an even greater insult. It is nothing short of radical.
This sentiment lives on in modern Judaism, as gory as it might sound. But, instead of smearing blood on doorposts, Jews affix something called a mezuzah to our doors. You might have seen this before. A mezuzah is like a small rectangular box which is often ornately decorated. Inside this little box is the Shemah, a prayer which is often called the most important prayer in Judaism. The Shemah is hand-written by a sofer (a scribe) on special parchment paper. The parchment paper used for the Shemah is the same that is used for a Torah.
The mezuzah comes directly from the story of the Israelites’ escape from Egypt and how they took a drastic step in their rebellion. Their bravery lives on in our doorposts. When being Jewish meant being part of a subjugated class in ancient Egypt, our ancestors remained resolute in their Judaism, going so far as to publicly proclaim their identity on their doorposts. It is in their honor and our eternal gratitude to G-D that we also display our identity on our doorposts, bridging the gap of thousands of years by continuing to be proud of who we are.
Hadass Galili is a senior studying political science pre-law at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Hadass by tweeting her at @HadassGalili.