Redemption and Plague (Randyjw; April 2, 2017)
The evening of April 10th, 2017 will begin the week-long Jewish holiday known as Passover, which celebrates the end of more than four hundred years of Jewish slavery in Egypt, our walk away from bondage through G-d’s miracles, and our arrival to the wilderness, where we received the tablets of G-d to accept our covenant in faith as the Jewish people.
It is encumbent upon us to teach our children this story, written in the form of a booklet called the “Haggadah” (which means, basically, “the telling”) and to recount each detail as we experienced them while in Egypt. The youngest children then ask four set questions pertaining to our celebration of this event. There is a dinner, or “seder” (which means “order”), held on the first two evenings and a certain format of certain foods and traditions which is the guideline, but from which never will two be the same.
The story recounts that Moses was cast on the river in a basket, in order that his mother could spare his life from the Egyptian decree to kill all Hebrew firstborn. The Pharoah’s daughter discovered him, and took him into their home, where he was raised as a son. G-d chooses him to lead the Israelites from Egypt, with his brother, Aaron.
Moses approaches Pharoah to ask that the Israelites be allowed to go into the countryside with their cattle and belongings to make prayer to G-d, away from their residence. Pharoah will not permit them to go out and leave all their work behind, making mud and straw bricks at Rameses and Pitom. Moses relays a series of ten plagues, each worse than the next, which G-d inflicts upon the Egyptians for each failed request that Pharoah denies, in order that the Egyptians will realize that it is the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who is doing this. Pharoah’s hardened heart was caused by G-d so that the plagues would not be considered a coincidental occurence. The final act occurs when G-d parts the sea and allows the Israelites to pass through on dry land, and closes the sea back upon Pharoah’s chariot army in pursuit.
During the seder, we fill our cups with wine four times (they can be small) and we pour a cup of wine and reserve a chair for Elijah, the Prophet, to join us at each table. The symbolic foods we serve are placed in a certain order on the plate, and generally include: hardboiled egg(s); greens; bitter herbs in salt water (symbolizing our labor and the salt water substituting for our tears); charoset — which is a mixture, generally prepared with apples, sweet red wine, and walnuts, meant to symbolize the mortar for the bricks we made; matzah (“the bread of affliction”), which was prepared for our hasteful journey without leaven (we are only supposed to eat matzah during the week and have not even a crumb of leavened bread within our abodes); and the shankbone of a lamb, referencing the placement of the lamb’s blood upon the lintels and posts of the Israelite doorways to allow the angel of death to pass over these homes and to not take their firstborn inside.
The Jewish people look at these miracles and our covenant made again with G-d, same as he had done with our forefathers, as our acceptance to accept Him as our G-d. It is one of the set holidays which G-d commands in the Torah that we should celebrate annually.
On this evening, a film is being offered with the same theme of “plague” — one of the worst in most recent times to afflict our planet: Ebola. Between 2013 and 2016, it caused a widespread pandemic in western Africa, where it has been known to occasionally break out in the sub-saharan tropics of Africa since being identified in 1976 (see Wikipedia.org for more information).
At the time, Samaritan’s Purse, the 501(c)(3) Christian missionary relief organization, with its medical division of mostly volunteer medical practitioners, World Medical Mission, stayed in the area to help the stricken patients. Speaking on Sean Hannity’s radio show broadcast this evening, Franklin Graham, the President and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, as well as of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, recounted some little known details of the tragedy. First, they were pretty much operating alone there. Dr. Kent Brantley and missionary Nancy Writebol had also contracted the deadly disease. The medical insurer left them stranded and would not send a plane to the area. They were lucky to come in contact with a government person who could secure the only plane that could handle such a thing, but they had to pay for it out of their own pocket. Both Dr. Brantley and Nancy Writebol survived their ordeals, during which time a protocol for treatment was basically and successfully established.
Their drama is told in the documentary film exploring these events, “Facing Darkness”. It debuted on the silver screen on March 30th, 2017, and will be screened in theatres again on April 10, 2017. It seems no coincidence that the date of Passover to relate the story of G-d’s redemption among the plague has been chosen to run this movie. I remember the events. I think it would be a difficult movie to watch, but incredible. Kindof like life, at times.
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For information on the Ebola virus, please see Wikipedia.org — “Ebola Virus Disease”: