One of my favorite teachings about the Exodus from Egypt is that we didn't leave Mitzrayim, that Narrow Place, by ourselves. A mixed multitude -- in Hebrew, an ערב רב –– came with us. (That's from Exodus 12:38.)
One interpretation holds that those who joined us in leaving the Narrow Place were Egyptians who had intermarried into the Jewish community and wanted to remain with us. They had chosen to connect themselves with our community.
It's also possible that others joined the throng for other reasons. Perhaps they had felt constrained in their existing lives, and needed change. Perhaps they had suffered oppression and resonated with God's call to freedom.
One story holds that Pharaoh's daughter came along, too -- and in so doing changed her name from bat Pharaoh, the (otherwise nameless) "daughter of Pharaoh," to Batya," daughter of God." Perhaps everyone who joins in the walk toward liberation is a child of God.
One way or another, I love that here in our most central story -- the story which we remember in daily prayer and in the Friday night kiddush and at the Pesach seder table -- liberation is not for us alone. This is not an insular experience, open only to those with the right credentials. Freedom is here for anyone who wishes to join us. Join the mixed multitude, the motley crew, in hoping for a better world.
Of course, you have to be willing to join not only in the fun parts, but also in the difficult ones. The joyous march toward freedom leads us inexorably to Sinai, to covenant with God and to the system of mitzvot which guide our lives. You have to be willing to join us in heeding Torah's imperative to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to care for the powerless, to love the stranger.
But freedom isn't ours alone. God isn't ours alone. Even revelation isn't ours alone -- my teacher Reb Zalman z"l taught that God broadcasts on all channels and each religious tradition hears the revelation to which it is attuned. If you want to join us in seeking to heal the world, pull up a chair and join the table, and let our story be your story too. "Let all who are hungry, come and eat."
Every year we pray that next year we may merit to celebrate Pesach in a world redeemed. And the only way to get it together, as Reb Zalman famously taught, is together. The only way we're going to repair the world is if we collaborate: each tradition bringing its unique gifts to the table; each person lifting up the holy sparks which only she can lift, teaching the Torah which is uniquely his to share.
If the idea of collaborating with other religious traditions to repair the world speaks to you, consider joining ALEPH for this summer's "Getting It... Together" weekend, July 3-5, which will feature a variety of amazing people and experiences. Click the link to read all about it.