Sources & Philosophy
A letter from Benyamin Gal to his Parents
Beit Hashita May 16, 1938
Benyamin Gal writes to his parents who have reservations about the content of the Seder of the Hugim Group in 1938:
Dear father and mother,
You see, father, that we are not so terrible as they are telling you. And our relationship with the past of the people is no weaker than those who wear yarmulkes. We just think that freedom of thought is also one of the basic values of Judaism and when we suckle from the sources of the past we do not lose our sense of criticism and we do not think that we need to approve equally everything that the founders instituted. And as the verse “in every generation each person must consider himself as if he has left Egypt” means a lot to me, I am very happy that it is included in the Haggadah.
But what can you do – the traditional Haggadah does not fulfil everything that we want for Passover, the festival of freedom and the festival of the exodus from Egypt as with all the generations. And we are groping in the dark. And during recent years a type of Haggadah has been developed in almost all the kibbutzim; a Haggadah that started in various corners and in various forms. There were numerous pitiable and meagre Haggadahs. But slowly and surely nevertheless the image of a new festival has developed in the kibbutzim, and the festival is really a great festival for us. Berl Katzenelson, who was with us during the intermediate days of the festival at a convention, told me that he was at Givat Brenner for the Seder Night and he had never seen in any Jewish synagogue during the conclusion of a festival such great sanctity that prevailed in the hall in Givat Brenner during the festival. And I do not think that Givat Brenner is different from us, or from any other kibbutz. Many are having doubts and searching how to design the festivals for us. However nevertheless something is being created. And if we have achieved the fact that a Jew like you enjoys the Haggadah of the Hugim Group then that is certainly a great achievement. I am sending you the Haggadah so that you can study it again. We have integrated in the festival three principal factors:
a. The festival of spring that was expressed in the Seder as bringing in the sheaves – everyone goes out into the field in the evening for a harvesting ceremony. The harvest is accompanied by songs and readings about spring and the sheaves.
b. The exodus from Egypt – is included in the Haggadah in its first part and includes sections from the traditional Haggadah, the bible and from the sayings of the Sages etc.
c. The third part is the aspiration to freedom in general; the enslavement in the Diaspora and the exodus from Egypt in our generation. We have seen fit also to integrate our generation and its questions although something in this issue seems perhaps “less important”, however I think that it would subtract from the value of the festival for us if we did not express an aspiration for freedom that we feel each and every day. I both participated and wrote a little in the preparation of the Haggadah.
The section that starts with “And we were slaves in every generation” and more.
The festival itself was grandiose. All our close and distant friends came. As usual, a lot of parents of members came. On the eve of the festival there was a feeling of “at home”. We washed, polished, scrubbed, we ate outside etc as is customary.
The intermediate days were dedicated to a convention of the “Mahanot Olim” council that I haven’t got the strength to write about now. Peace and more peace to those near and far.