Let my people go!

Moses’ famous line, Let my people go is very well known. The people of Israel are in bondage and the enslaved Israelites are waging a battle for their freedom against Egypt. Moses approaches Pharaoh and says, “Let my people go”! 

That being said, Let my people go has undoubtedly become a spiritual theme song for the Pesach miracle. It encapsulates the spirit of deliverance from slavery in Egypt and still resonates today. This is what we at the Women’s International Zionist Organisation (WIZO) do to assist women who have been battered or mistreated in their home lives, and are now ‘set free’ to come out of ‘bondage’ from their abusive environments. They enter our warm and loving NEVE WIZO houses of safety, which are places of salvation, in which to recuperate and heal.

Thinking and preparing for change are important steps for these women. They need to follow through with their actions. Matzah, eaten on Pesach, did not have the time to rise. The lesson is to teach the importance of acting quickly when we know something is important. The women who enter our NEVE WIZO houses of safety often inadvertently leave it late in departing from their abusive environments. All of our WIZO homes are there to give them a safety net and an opportunity to recover fully.

The concept of freedom is one that everyone instinctively understands. Pesach is all about justice and helping one another become free. This is the ultimate goal of WIZO in Israel when it comes to assisting the women who need our help.

In the Pesach story we ask, “How was it for you when you were liberated?” One of the purposes of the Pesach Seder is to make us feel as if we personally experienced the exodus from Egypt and the redemption from slavery. We say in the Seder, “I have been oppressed, I have become free, somebody helped me, I have helped other people”.  This is what WIZO does. The Pesach story is one of last-minute hope. It is about a faith that pulled the Israelites forward and helped them to take that first step towards freedom. It’s a story about how Hashem picked them up and brought them from despair to joy, from darkness to light, from chaos to meaning. The WIZO story is the journey of those women who need our help, receiving the help that they need. When they leave the shelters after healing, they can start a new and fully functional life.

Pharaoh’s daughter rescued baby Moses from the bulrushes. Here we have a beautiful illustration of one of Judaism’s core concepts. One person can save an entire nation, and the Pesach story is proof of that. We should all look for the positive results that unfold from the act of helping others, and we at WIZO do just that by helping to upskill these women in order that they can contribute effectively to society. As we liberate others, we in turn liberate ourselves. 

The Pesach story teaches us many lessons. Our responsibility is to help those in need. We set the Seder table with salt water to represent our tears and we eat bitter herbs to remember the suffering we endured. This teaches us to yearn for freedom and for the freedom of every person. Our NEVE WIZO houses of safety protect women and give them that freedom. 

We clean everything before Pesach and symbolically so do these women, by getting rid of any baggage they have been carrying with them that keeps them from being liberated. The hardships that they have endured hopefully helps them to have a better and brighter future. A lesson from Pesach teaches us that what happened during our darkest days often gives us much to be thankful for at a later date.

The Jewish definition of freedom is the ability to create a meaningful life with authentic values and constant growth. As we gather around the Seder table, recall the Pesach story that has been passed down from generation to generation and remember that none are free if not all are free. 

May we all, together with WIZO, be blessed on this Pesach to embrace all that we have. 

Chag Sameach and L’Chaim!

Website: WIZO South Africa

• Published in the April 2023 Edition – Click here to start reading.

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