• Gabbai

Vayikra / Hachodesh – The Mythology of the Exodus

“Remember the Alamo!” was the rallying cry, urging Texans in 1836 to join the army and exact revenge on the Mexican army for the Battle of the Alamo, where every last soldier, including those who surrendered, were massacred. The campaign succeeded, and shortly thereafter the Mexican army was defeated by a bitterly determined group of Texans.

Remembrance is an important part of a nation’s identity. The historical narrative builds a mythology and a shared sense of history among members of a nation. These days we focus a great deal on the divisiveness of identity, highlighting its ability to separate groups, but identity is also responsible for cohesion within a group, and that must not be minimized. A mythology can be built from a long national history, or it can revolve around a single event. The Alamo was a single event which formed a localized narrative and identity. In Australia and New Zealand the ANZAC day commemorations, taking place next month, honour the contributions and sacrifices made by troops from these countries in the two world wars. “Lest we forget” is the phrase we employ to keep this in our national memory. For Jews a more recent phrase is “Never again,” invoking memories of the Holocaust’s horrors.

Zecher L’yetzi’at Mitzrayim, in commemoration of the Exodus from Egypt, is a phrase woven into the theme of numerous Mitzvot we perform, a significant part of the Torah’s mythology for the Jew. This phrase is most recognizable as a part of the kiddush we recite every Friday night, as well as every Yom Tov eve. The observance of a festival, the consecration of the day, invokes the memory of the Exodus.