“Let my people go” is probably one of the most famous phrases in all history, literature and religion. It frames our Seder and our Pesach celebrations.

Like some ancient soundbite, it comes down to us through the ages, the banner, we believe, which heralds our coming into the world as the people of progress and freedom.

Like many other soundbites, it is a fractured piece of a greater truth. We hang on to it because it feels punchy and full of meaning. It is a partial phrase, however, that belies a deeper message and a deeper truth.

So, why do I call it a ‘fracture’? Surely “let my people go” is a great message! It’s a reminder of the equality of all human beings, a reminder that one nation has no right to oppress another, a reminder that no single person has the right to oppress any other being.

“Let my people go” is a partial call. Let them go to what? Let us go to what? Freedom is instinctive, instinctively wonderful …. but to what end? To what purpose or course? How do we structure where we go to with the new freedom? What is the point?

The end of Moses’ famous declaration from G-d is: “… so they may serve me”.

From a yoke of a Pharaoh who wants to humiliate and break down and abuse and enrich himself at your expense, comes a G-d who says I insist you rest every seven day, you your cattle, all the strangers among you.

From a Pharaoh who enslaved the people and had instant rights over their life and death, comes a G-d who says if you even break a tooth or an arm of an indentured servant, you must set them free and send the out with animals and the best of your belongings.

The missing “…. that they may serve Me” is the invitation to a best life, to a life of meaning.

In a continent and an age beset by depression, anxiety , need for counseling, therapy, and medication, and abuses of food, alcohol and perhaps even leisure time, comes a call for freedom …. with purpose!

Put that in your mind as you sit down to a Seder, or a meal, or however you celebrate this Pesach.

Rabbi Mark Biller