Jews around the world are celebrating freedom as the eight-day Passover holiday began at sundown (Monday), and one local man is remembering the lessons his late father taught him about the Israelites escape from Egyptian bondage.
McLean County Board member and retired professor George Gordon shares the story taught to him by his father, Rabbi Ted Gordon, who died in 2005 at age 96.
Gordon says the Torah, which is the Jewish law, is not clear how long Israelites were in bondage. It could be anywhere from 30 to 400 years.
Gordon’s father suggested the Torah might be intentionally vague.
“Dad speculated that was done by someone whose identity we’ll never know to emphasize the point even harder that slavery was not something we enjoyed or that anybody should enjoy and that freedom is a major point, but a point made more significantly by the addition of the number 400,” George Gordon said.
Gordon says each Passover, his father reminded him that no one really knows how long Israelites were in bondage.
“Emphasizing 30 years and 400 years makes the point more poignantly and more convincingly that the Israelites were in slavery for such a long time,” Gordon said. “That’s why we value freedom so much.”
Rabbi Ted Gordon was a reform rabbi in Philadelphia. In his 90’s, he led Bloomington’s Moses Montefiore Temple for two years.