Pesach Message from United Synagogue President, Michael Goldstein
Pesach commemorates our Exodus from Egypt. God is the one who took us out, but he appointed Moses to be our leader. Curiously, Moses was not one of the leaders of the Jewish people until that point. He wasn’t an orator and we have no evidence of him filling a position of leadership within the community.
So why was he chosen to lead the Jewish people?
Leadership is not about getting others to do what you want. A leader is one who takes responsibility. ‘Moses … went out to his brethren and observed their burdens and he saw an Egyptian man striking a Hebrew, of his brethren. He turned this way and that and saw there was no man, so he struck the Egyptian’ (Exodus 2: 11-12).
In saying that ‘there was no man’, the Torah is teaching us that Moses understood that no one else was going to stop the Egyptian and do justice. As Hillel said, ‘In a place where there is no man, strive to be a man’ (Ethics of the Fathers 2:6). He understood what he needed to do, he recognised the responsibility and he did it.
Pesach is the festival in which we celebrate freedom. That freedom requires a purpose. At our seder table we begin with an invitation to others to partake in the meal as a reminder that true freedom requires responsibility, namely the responsibility to give.
The greatest expression of one’s true freedom is the ability to give and assist others. The seder begins with an invitation to those less fortunate, an important reminder of what true freedom entails.
So, this year, as you sit with family and friends. Please consider ways in which you can give to our wonderful community. Whether it be volunteering to schools, shuls or social care facilities. Putting yourself forward to lead our schools and shuls or representing your community on the Board of Deputies.
My own life is enriched by the volunteering that I am involved with as I see the fruits of our labour across our numerous and varied communities. Seeing the efforts that so many people put in to ensure the continuation of our wonderful tradition is a source of personal joy. I encourage as many of you as is possible to join our band of leaders and volunteers.
May we all be blessed with a happy and kosher Pesach.