How can we really see ourselves as if we left Egypt?
בְּכָל־דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָּב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת־עַצְמוֹ כְּאִלּוּ הוּא יָצָא מִמִּצְרַיִם
Bechol dor vador chayav adam lirot et atzmo k’ilu hu yatza miMitzrayim.
In each and every generation, a person is obligated to see oneself as if he/she/they left Egypt.
One of the aims of seder night is to connect to our ancestors – both in word, through telling of the story, and in action, through eating the matzah and maror. Bechol Dor Vador (from the Maggid section of the Hagaddah) however, takes this concept one step further and asks us to think as if we ourselves had actually been the ones to leave Egypt. However, wouldn’t simply remembering the story be sufficient, without actually trying to live it, and placing ourselves in the shoes of our ancestors?
Had G-d not taken the Jews out of Egypt, then they and all future generations after them would have remained enslaved to Pharaoh. Without G-d’s intervention, we would all still be living in Egypt today, completely powerless. As unimaginable as this is, we must recognise that what happened to every former generation of Jews has an enormous impact on modern day Jewry. G-d took the Jews out of Egypt for their benefit, but also for the sake of all of their descendants.
Time and time again in Jewish history, we see Jews making huge sacrifices for the continuity of the Jewish people. If our ancestors could go to such lengths for our benefit, how much more so should we today try to be worthy of their efforts. Whilst it is importance to embrace the present and involve ourselves in the world around us, it is equally essential to have a profound appreciation for generations past, and continue the age-old Jewish tradition of linking past, present and future. This is the essence of Bechol Dor Vador, by looking at ourselves as if we individually left Egypt, we forge another link in the unbroken chain of Jewish history.
Written by Jodie Franks