This year our seder table will welcome Egyptian Slave Barbie. It doesn’t have to be Barbie (even though Barbie’s mother, Ruth Handler, was Jewish) any doll, GI Joe, a Lego form will do so long as it reminds us of a slave– scuff it up, dress it in rags, or whatever, it’s your slave.
The doll can remind us that the Egyptians were slaves who never knew what hit ‘em.
Of course, there is as much evidence for an historical Moses as there is for an historical Batman. But we are the Jews, the world’s most obsessive compulsive book club. Work with me.
In our book, the men, women, and children of Egypt had been enslaved centuries earlier by Donny Osmond – I mean Joseph. They were the property of Pharaoh, the Goldman Sachs of his day. The Egyptians slaves had never heard of Israel’s God. Pharaoh had never heard of Israel’s God. Imagine some Canadian coming to Obama and saying, “The Spaghetti Monster says ‘Let you nuclear weapons go!’” Obama would be like-
All the everyday Egyptian slave knew was that suddenly the water was undrinkable, like in Flint Michigan. Bugs everywhere, frogs all over the place, everybody was getting boils, the weather was messed up, Facebook was down. It was a catastrophe!
You can imagine starving families running out of their burning shacks with fiery hail blasting around them wondering, “WTF?” Not that the answer would have been satisfying, “You are suffering because a god you’ve never heard of wants to show people you’ve never met that he’s the most brutal of the deities you cannot see.”
The Israelites didn’t know what was going on either. Unlike US negro slaves, the Israelites didn’t have to organize and suffer for their freedom, they just watched the action movie. But even we don’t tell stories about helping out our suffering Egyptian slave neighbors. There was no Israelite Schindler.
But we do say YHWH softened the Egyptian hearts and turned them into zombie philanthropists. “Yes Israel, take what you want, you can return it when the Cubs win the world series.”
Sez me, spilling ten drops of wine does not come close to reminding us of what the plagues did to the rest of Egypt’s slaves, who were, everybody. At our seder, after the wine dripping, we’ll pass around Egyptian slave Barbie, or GI Joe, or whomever, and borrowing from Pope Francis (who wears a yarmulke, making him “Jew-ish,”) I’ll pour water onto the feet of the doll, serving an Egyptian slave as a gesture of humility in the face of the “Yuge” price those other slaves paid for Israelite freedom.
Get a doll, or doll feet, or what you “identify with” as Egyptian slave feet. Get all empathetic and humble about Pesach. This Passover, don’t pass over the Egyptian slaves.