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Speak Truth to Power: A Message to Prepare Us for Experiencing Next Month’s Emancipation


By Rabbi Dovid S. Asher

Keneseth Beth Israel

When Moshe goes to Pharaoh to speak truth to power on behalf of the Jewish people, it was a message and lesson in morality.  Don’t put people in chains and stifle humanity’s march for self-determining an aspirational destiny.  The strength behind Moshe’s message was predicated upon a force that could only be universalistic in nature.

The rightness and correctness of Moshe’s lobbying position was influential in part because of the universalist aspect of his arguments.  In other words, Moshe had the cosmos backing him on some level.

The objective truth was a critical part of the story of Moshe’s successful efforts for Jewish emancipation.  The source of this objectivity was monotheism and an omnipotent G-d.  If G-d, or the source of Moshe’s advocacy, was limited by time and space then we would still be in chains.

When we speak truth to power, such as when we strive for religious liberties that are often seemingly out of reach or when we go up against the hundreds of countries that often vote against equality for the Jewish state of Israel, then how do we tap into Moshe’s recipe for success and strategize for achieving our advocacy goals?  The aforementioned specific goals are merely examples, but we could fill in the blank with any number of individual or collective agenda items.

Whether it’s due to our diminutive size or the tall odds of changing a glacial quagmire of an institution or a similarly challenging social construct, how can we be privy to the divine inspiration that was a major part of the Jewish people’s and Moshe’s original Passover story?

The answer is that since we do not have the Moshe-level clarity by virtue of him having direct prophecy, we can still use the tool of the Haggadah.  The term of “Haggadah” belies the fundamental exercise of the Seder night.  Retelling the story is the fulfilment of this unique Pesach oratory mitzvah and a fulfillment of Torah study as well.

While we do not have G-d coaching us along the way like Moshe did on how to achieve freedom from whatever is enchaining us and withholding us from progress, fortunately, we do have Torah.

Torah is the one article that provides us with the same effective weapon of ideas that was utilized by Moshe to achieve victory for our people.  This is why the Haggadah is full of direct Torah quotes and passages.

May the Almighty bless us with a wonderful holiday and the fortitude necessary to access this universalistic, objective truth of the Torah, which gives us clout for our causes both small and large.