The Night I Was Redeemed
It was the night of the Exodus.
There we were in our homes; waiting, terrified, and exhilarated.
As per Moses’s command, we prepared the sacrificial lamb. We marked our doorposts with its blood, and as a family unit, hastily ate its roasted meat.
Loins girded, sandals on our feet, and staffs in our hands; we were ready. Egyptian anguish permeated the air as God struck down every firstborn, both man and beast throughout the land. Never before had Egypt known such terror and pain; for there was death everywhere. Finally, after endless suffering, God heard our tormented cries and remembered.
Destiny was unfolding as God fulfilled the centuries-old promise to my forefather Abraham. The tides were turning and redemption was palpable. I looked in my treasured mirror that I had kept safe all this time and I found that my eyes, which for as long as I could remember, were shadowed and dimmed, now shined brightly with hope.
My only son Isaac, no longer destined to be a victim tethered to the altar of slavery, was looking out the window, envisioning things that I could not. My daughter Serach, named for her great-great-grandmother, sat quietly on the floor playing with her tambourine. The bells on her instrument chimed so softly and sweetly, soothing my bitter soul. And for the first time, in what felt like an eternity- my broken heart began to heal. I was ready. We were ready.
Suddenly, at midnight – we heard the call.
It was time to go. We bravely stepped over the threshold of our front door into the unknown.
It was dark, but the moon, full and high in the night sky, illuminated our way. Throngs of my people from young to old, men, women, and children silently swarmed into the streets. We were nothing but dry bones that had been resurrected from the dead but as we walked along, more and more joined until we were greater than six hundred thousand strong. Each of us, lost in our own memories; remembering those who suffered the unimaginable and those who didn’t make it.
“Don’t worry”, I promised.
“We will tell your story.
We will not forget you.
One day, when we are truly free, our children will ask questions and they will link their stories to yours.”
Somehow, despite the odds, we are still here.
The enemy has not succeeded in annihilating us, and miraculously from a small family of seventy, a powerful and mighty nation was born on foreign soil. Armed with nothing but dreams and determination, we walked and walked through that long dark night until daybreak, when we arrived at the border. And then, in the middle of that day, when the sun was high in the sky, at the end of the four hundred and thirtieth year, in front of the entire world, God triumphantly took us out of Egypt.
Exhausted and intoxicated with dreams of a land flowing with milk and honey, we arrived at the sea. As the swirling waters miraculously split before our eyes, we crossed onto dry land, emerging safely. Tears streaming down my cheeks, I joyfully reached for my daughter’s hand. Overflowing with thankfulness, we lifted our timbrels, raised our voices in a song of praise and hallel and our dusty and tired feet broke out in effervescent dance. After an eternity of waiting and hoping, we were headed to the Promised Land where the air is inspirational and the mountains and valleys drink rain directly from heaven.
And so every year from that moment forward, I retell my story of the night I was redeemed. The story of the miracle that God did for me. For all our people. For our children and every generation after. The story of the night we were redeemed.
Sources: Exodus, Deuteronomy, Genesis, Ezekiel, Shemot Rabbah, Talmud Bavli, Baal Haggadah, Rambam, Jewish History
Yael Saffra completed her Bachelor’s degree at Stern College and has a Masters in Jewish education from the Azrieli School of Yeshiva University. She is currently a Tanach teacher at Haftr high school and at SKA high school for girls.