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Jewish Journal

Is the Exodus Narrative Really That Good?

by Beit T'shuvah

March 25, 2013 | 1:58 pm

By Yeshaia Blakeney

So today while thinking about what I wanted to write about Passover, this unholy thought popped in my head.  Is the Exodus story even a good story?  I know it must be because it’s the most powerful, climactic, sweeping narrative in all of Torah, but I couldn’t help but ask, is it really that good?  I know people say things like “the Exodus narrative is the archetype for the western story arc,” and it has these timeless human metaphors of slavery and freedom, desert and Promised Land, and the scene with G-d is... Well it’s no Jurassic Park, but it’s pretty darn good. I have to say I’ve heard the Exodus narrative for almost all of my life and sometimes I was left with this sort of feeling like when my wife asks if I think her shoes go good with her dress.  I’m no fashion expert, but I do know writing and so I have to ask, is the Exodus narrative really that good?  The story of the exodus from Egypt for me is like marriage when it’s not going well, I’m trying to figure out, is it her or is it me.  I mean with Leviticus I know it’s her, but the Exodus narrative makes me question myself, and my head tells me crazy things like: THE EXODUS NARRATIVE IS THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD. I CANT WAIT TO READ IT EVERY YEAR FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.  And then I have to shake myself out of it and compare it to something current just to check an example, like: Is the exodus narrative as good as let’s say, Argo.  I mean Argo is at least based on a true story(insert oos and aaahs).  Or my choice for best movie of the year, Django, Django has real black people in it not just token Midianites, whatever that means. 

One could respond to me “who cares if the exodus narrative is really that good.”  And you’d be making a strong point.  But then Passover comes along and tells us to see ourselves as if we ourselves made the exodus from Egypt, now what the heck are we supposed to do with that.  So I’m going to put up a strong three part argument that The Exodus Narrative is the greatest story ever told.  And here is my argument: Martin Luther King, The emancipation proclamation, And the History of the Jewish People.  What it means to see ourselves as if we ourselves, is to see our connection to this journey.   The difference between Exodus and any other story is we are living this story, it is ours and it continues into the now.  On Passover we are asked to look deeply at where we come from, at what we are a part of, we are asked to look at what we are a slave to, and somehow in this process of deep inner acknowledgment of our Judaism and of our humanity and of our story. We get free.

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