(Excerpted from The Family Seder, Prepared by Rabbi Alfred J. Kolatch)
All are seated around the table, and the leader, or one of the participants, reads the following introduction:
The Essence of Passover
"Passover has a message for the conscience and the heart of all mankind. For what does it commemmorate? It commemorates the deliverance of a people from degrading slavery, from most foul and cruel tyranny. And so it is Israel's -- nay, God's protest against unrighteousness, whether individual or national. Wrong, it declares, many triumph for a time, but even though it is perpetuated by the strong on the weak, it will meet with its inevitable retribution at last." (Morris Joseph: Judaism as Creed and Life)
Although we, who mouth the words and recite the ritual, are reliving an epoch which is peculiar to Jewish history, the drama that is Passover is no longer ours alone. Its enactment is not confined only to the dining rooms of our own homes; it has been embraced by the world at large, and is continually being reenacted on the stage of mankind by all who seek avenues to assert their condemnation of oppression and tyranny, by all who labor in the vineyard of the Lord searching for freedom and peace.
Although it is the Pharaoh of old who is the tyrant of the Haggadah, it is not he alone of whom we speak tonight. We speak this evening of other tryants and other tyrannies as well. We speak
Of the tyranny of poverty
And the tyranny of privation,
Of the tyranny of wealth
And the tyranny of war,
Of the tyranny of power
And the tyranny of despair,
Of the tyranny of disease
And the tyranny of time,
Of the tyranny of ignorance
And the tyranny of color.
To all these tyrannies do we address ourselves this evening. Passover brands them all as abominations in the sight of God.
With Thomas Jefferson we say: "I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind."
And with Abraham Lincoln we affirm: "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy."
The spirit of Passover, although created of the flesh and sinew of Judaism, belongs to all mankind. "since the Exodus," said Heinrich Heine, "freedom has spoken with a Hebrew accent." Today it speaks in the language of all men.