Passover is not only the first of the three major Jewish festivals, but the foundation of all of them. The Exodus from Egypt prepared the Jewish people for receiving the Torah on Shavuot. Sukkot, too, is connected to Passover, in that it commemorates the booths (sukkot) that the Children of Israel inhabited in the wilderness.
The main theme of Passover is that it is “the season of our freedom,” the time when the Jewish people went out of slavery and became an independent nation. The Torah describes what happened as follows: “G-d has ventured to go and take or Himself a nation from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs and by wonders… according to all that the L-rd your G-d did for you in Egypt before your eyes.” The keys words are “a nation from the midst of another nation,” which express the true uniqueness of the event.
What does it mean that the Jews were “a nation in the midst of another nation”? On the one hand it implies that the Children of Israel were already a “people,” in the sense that they spoke their own language, lived in their own land (Goshen), and were careful to wear distinctive Jewish dress. At the same time, they were subservient and dependent upon the Egyptians.
Our Sages likened this situation to a fetus in its mother’s womb. The fetus is a separate entity from the mother, with its own head, hands, legs and other limbs. Yet it is not a truly independent being, as it is forced to go wherever the mother goes, derives its sustenance from whatever she eats, etc. In truth, the fetus is completely dependent on the mother.
This accurately describes the Jews’ circumstances in Egypt: While recognisable as a separate entity, they were completely dependent on the Egyptians – so much so that it appeared as if they were also tainted by Egyptian idolatry.
The “umbilical cord” was severed when the Jews were commanded to slaughter and eat the Pascal lamb, an animal that the Egyptians worshipped. The courage and self-sacrifice it took to do this was the first step in the Jewish people’s liberation from Egypt and its mentality.
This contains an eternal lesson: A person may think that he is free and independent because he has his own thoughts and desires. Upon reflection, however, he may discover that he is connected by an invisible “umbilical cord” to his surroundings and that in reality, he is a slave to whatever non-Jewish mores and conventions happen to be in vogue. Worse still is that he thinks that this is the true meaning of “freedom.”
The holiday of Passover endows us with the strength to attain true freedom. The first step is to “slaughter” any “idols” that might be worshipped even subconsciously, and rid oneself of dependency on “what the world thinks.” For the Jewish people are servants of G-d and no one else! Moshiach NOW!!!