Plagues of the New American Pharaoh

Our family uses the Reform Jewish Haggadah, written by a committee of Reform rabbis in the mid-Seventies. Before the recounting of the ten plagues on Egypt, the haggadah has a passage that discusses the plagues that “threaten everyone everywhere.” I’ll quote it in full:

The making of war,

The teaching of hate and violence,

Despoliation of the earth,

Perversion of justice and government,

Fomenting of vice and crime,

Neglect of human needs,

Oppression of nations and peoples,

Corruption of culture,

Subjugation of science, learning, and human discourse,

The erosion of freedoms.

Perhaps the rabbis who wrote this passage were looking to their immediate context and thinking about the Watergate era. But, looking forward from their vantage point, this passage is amazingly prophetic. It reads as a catalogue and denunciation of the policies and practices of the New American Pharaoh. Reform Judaism has sometimes referred to itself as prophetic Judaism, applying the message of the prophets to our time and place. I can’t think of a more prophetic passage than this, and I’ll point it out when we read the Haggadah at our seder tonight.


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