Choose to Believe We Can

5 years ago Archive 0

As I’ve grown older, I’ve found that the story of Pesach is one with a forever changing significance and meaning. Each year, I learn something new as I approach the story from a different perspective. As a young child the difference was far more obvious. In Pre-K the story was simplified. The Jewish people were very sad, and had a bad life in Egypt, but G-D used his strength to save the Jewish people from this misery. In Kindergarten, suddenly the Jews in Egypt were not only sad, but they were slaves, and by the second grade, I knew why the Jews had streaks of blood on their doorsteps, and I was shocked by the final and gravest plague; death of the first born son.

Thank G-d, at the age of 17, I haven’t stopped learning, and I’ve recently gained a newfound appreciation for perhaps, one of the story’s overlooked heroines. I say Pesach and you think, Moshe, Miriam, Yocheved…But what about Batya? What about the woman who was confronted with a situation which was beyond her control, beyond her capacity to rectify, yet still tried with all her might to help the crying baby floating along the river.

We would hear the cries, but would not see his struggle. We would be blinded by the distance, be blinded by the obstacles and not try to save Moshe. If someone is crying out for our help, yet there’s nothing we can do, we resign ourselves to inactivity. We see ourselves as completely powerless, and decide there’s no point of even trying. But Batya, saw her power, she saw that she could do a little something. She stretched out her arm to reach for Moshe, but there was still a great distance between her hand and the basket. So what was the point, right? It’s nice that she tried, but it doesn’t matter, for she couldn’t do what she set out to. Her act was effectively meaningless. But she did all she was capable of, she put all of her power into saving Moshe, and G-D saw this. He came to her aid, stretched out his arm, extending Batya’s toward Moshe, and the gap closed, bringing Moshe to safety.

It’s great right? A beautiful story. But it’s not all. See, I left a little something out. I left out the part of the story which screams, Gabrielle, the Pesach story is not archaic! It is completely relevant to 2016! I left out the part of the story which I am deeply affected by. The part which is truly different this year, and I’m not sure that I would have been able to see its significance last year or the year before, because not only am I different, but the world is too. Today, I’m far too aware of the overwhelming presence of antisemitism across the globe. I’m haunted by the cries of young Jewish boys who can’t walk to their mailbox in a kippah, for fear of persecution. I feel such immense sorrow for those who can’t share their Jewish pride the way I can.

But this year, I thought about the Pesach story for the 17th time, and felt a glimmer of hope. Batya gave me hope, for when she was by the river and saved Moshe, she was there for an unbelievable reason. Batya, the daughter of Pharaoh, the tyrannical ruler of Egypt. The daughter of a man who’s life mission was to torture the Jewish people, and annihilate all Jewish boys, was by the river to convert to Judaism. Batya chose to become a Jewish woman at a time when Judaism was synonymous with death and misery. And while it’s certainly easier said than done, if Batya had the strength to convert to Judaism while other Jews around her were being murdered by her own father, maybe the Jews of 2016, can channel some of Batya’s strength and stand as tall and proud Jews. I choose to believe we can.