Often overlooked in the Passover story is the heroism of two Israelite women. We are told that the Pharaoh decreed that all Israelite male children were to be killed, lest the Israelites multiply,join with an enemy, and bring about the downfall of his regime.
The Torah tells us of two courageous women who resisted the Pharaoh’s decree. According to our sages, the two women were Yoheved and Miriam, the mother and sister of Moses, who did all in their power to save the Israelite children.
I was reminded of this as I read of the passing of Frida Wattenberg. he was a girl of sixteen when the Nazis invaded her native France in 1940. Three years later, she was already risking her life by helping to drive Jewish children out of occupied France into neutral Switzerland.“It was horrible what went on all over Europe. We couldn’t save the adults always. But we tried to do what we could for the children.”
Pikuach Nefesh is a term which means “the saving of life.” In our religion, this is the highest of all values. It is a value that applies very much to this time in which we are living. All of us are trying our best to “save life,” both our own and that of people whom we might encounter. For sure, this is a nasty virus that has taken so many lives and caused us to fear for our own well-being and that of all who are dear to us.
As the Israelites went forth from slavery to freedom, so may we emerge from this trying time knowing that each of us did our part to save and preserve life. We are not called upon to do what Frida Wattenberg did. We’re not being asked to risk our lives by saving others as Miriam and Yocheved did. Only to protect ourselves and others from an enemy that is so strong and powerful.
As Passover marks our historic redemption from the constraints of Egypt, so may we break the chains of all that enslaves us and our society at the present time. It’s not easy, but that is the call of Passover. Redemption will yet come.