A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of reading my entire bat mitzvah parsha, Parshat Bo, in celebration of my second bat mitzvah. Reminiscing about the festivities the first time around, it was always nice when I was practicing and actually layning, to come across 10:8-11, which I wrote about for my bat mitzvah d’var torah. In what perhaps was, in retrospect, a sign of my budding egalitarianism, I was drawn to the negotiations between Pharoah and Moshe, when Pharoah finally begins to give way. Yet while Pharoah is ready to let Moshe go with the men on a “3-day jaunt” into the dessert, Moshe emphasizes that he expects to be able to take everyone: men, women, children, and cattle. This is unacceptable to Pharoah, and the deal is off the table. Ever since fifth grade, when I first saw these psukim and decided to write my bat mitzvah speech about them, I’ve found the philosophy of those psukim to be extremely compelling; none of us are free, until all of us are.
An organization that I’ve recently become involved with in an effort to put this ideology into practice is ATZUM. ATZUM is an organization that, among other things, aims to end human trafficking and sex slavery in Israel, an issue that is not often discussed, but is a major issue there. What these trafficked woman experience is nothing short of horrific, and by educating ourselves and taking action, we can make real progress on this front. With Pesach coming up, we are about to commemorate the utterance of those words that I chanted, and to celebrate the society that was able to be created because of Moshe’s insistence that it was everyone or no one. It is worth thinking about the slavery that currently exists in the world, and working to create a world (Jewish or otherwise) where we are all truly liberated.