lead story–philanthropy leads to pesach!

I had seen this story this past week and I was thinking how much it fit into our job of Magid at the seder table, but I didn’t imagine that it was going to take me into politics, as well.

Let’s start with the highlights of the story of the storytelling:

Know YOUR story and tell it with authenticity

Listen to the stories of others

Listen to the story the data is telling you

Narrative is important – but it does not trump action!

So here’s a great example of action in real time.

Now let’s talk a little about the wider implications of Israel being the Start-up Nation, and especially how we should do more to internalize and utilize the fact.

We need to update our narrative. The Jewish narrative has changed over the years. We need to enter the 3.0 era.

1.0 was the era of the Bible. What we Jews were about then was purpose. And our purpose was to transform the pagan world – the world of child sacrifice and extreme immorality. Along with Christianity and Islam, we succeeded to spread a message of one God and of ethics. The pagan world was transformed. Mission accomplished. And we grew as a people. But then we faced the destruction of the Temple and exile.

And that took us into the 2.0 era. 2.0 was the era of survival. In that mode, what we Jews were about was survival, and the dream of a return, and messianism. We were hoping we’d be around to see the future. That 2.0 period lasted 2,000 years.

And today?

Today, we’ve still got this narrative: They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat. That’s how we still think of our narrative.

Amusing, but not good enough?

That’s a narrative of survival. That’s not a purpose. Unless you call survival a purpose.

Which you don’t?

Of course not. We must update the narrative, to: They tried to kill us, we won, now we’re changing the world! That takes us to the word “miracle” in the book’s subtitle. When I moved here 16 years ago, we thought that the dream of being a light unto the nations probably had to wait for peace. We were busy surviving.

That challenge is still there. But what we learned writing this book is that the light unto the nations dream is already happening. We are saving lives though medicine – through medical innovation.

Better Place is showing the whole world how to get off oil. Almost every technology you look at – computers, cellphones, Internet – has a piece of Israel in it. Almost all of the major technology companies are doing some of their research here. We’re having an impact and it can increase dramatically. There’s tremendous potential for it to grow.

And somehow this positive impact has to be integrated into our narrative: what we’ve achieved; what we can do.

Yet that’s not what we talk about when we talk about Israel. It’s not what we show when we bring people to Israel. It’s not integrated into the way we think about our purpose as a people in the world. Not yet.

An impressive example of someone thinking outside the political box:

“We turned to Kibbutz Afikim because the Israeli milk industry is No. 1 in the world, and we are happy to be able to use the knowledge and modernization of our neighbors to help us increase the amount of milk in the PA,” he said.

That’s the Palestinian Authority, in case you didn’t realize.

And then there’s always what we can learn from our winged friends.

But key to any such conversation efforts, Leshem maintained in his speech, is regional cooperation.

“The birds and wildlife have the power to get people together,” he told the group, noting that Israel is strategically located at the junction of three continents.

“Migrating birds know no boundaries.”

But let’s get back to our seder, shall we? What is the action that we need to take at the seder? At the end of the Magid section, what do we say?

לְפִיכָךְ אֲנַחְנוּ חַיָבִים לְהוֹדוֹת, לְהַלֵל, לְשַׁבֵּחַ, לְפָאֵר, לְרוֹמֵם, לְהַדֵּר, לְבָרֵךְ, לְעַלֵּה וּלְקַלֵּס לְמִי שֶׁעָשָׂה

לַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ וְלָנוּ אֶת כָּל הַנִסִּים הָאֵלוּ: הוֹצִיאָנוּ מֵעַבְדוּת לְחֵרוּת מִיָּגוֹן לְשִׂמְחָה, וּמֵאֵבֶל לְיוֹם טוֹב, וּמֵאֲפֵלָה לְאוֹר גָּדוֹל, וּמִשִּׁעְבּוּד לִגְאֻלָּה. וְנֹאמַר לְפָנָיו שִׁירָה חֲדָשָׁה: הַלְלוּיָהּ.

Therefore, we are obligated to thank, praise, glorify, raise, exalt, bless, lift up, laud (וּלְקַלֵּס from the Greek –one of the only if not the only words in Greek taken into Hebrew) to He who did all these miracles for us and for our parents: He took us from slavery to freedom, from agony to happiness, from mourning to holiday, from fog to great light, from bondage to redemption, and let us say a new song: Halleluyah.

New song is action.


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