Study and Theory/
Yom Hazikaron

Aaron Megged

From Servitude to Freedom

1965

Our epos is the epos of the exodus from slavery to freedom. We are a very ancient people, and one of the few that does not have an epic of war heroism. Poems were not written about us, such as the adventures of Gilgamesh or "Iliad" and "Odyssey," or as the latter poems of Roland the French, of King Arthur of England, of the Nordic Harold, of the German Nibelungen. Our great epic is not a war epic, but an epic of exiting from slavery to freedom and of wandering in the desert to the Promised Land. True, "the chariots of Pharaoh and his armies sank in the sea and the best of his adjutants were drowned in the Red Sea," but the glory is "to the right of the Lord" and not to the right of a man.

Forty years of wandering in the desert, and "they travelled and they camped, and they traveled and they camped", and in the midst of this -  Matan Torah – The event of the Giving of the Torah – that had taken place at Mount Sinai. This is our most profound national memory that has been sanctified by tradition and that had formulated the tribes into a nation. The conquest of the land by Joshua and the Magistrates' wars of defense are told of as history embedded within archaic legends, but neither Joshua and nor were any of the judges as hallowed as Moses and Aaron, and David the Conqueror was not inscribed in the legacy of the generations, but David the shepherd boy who strikes Goliath, and David the singer of the pleasant hymns of Israel and composer of the Psalms and not Solomon the ruler, but Solomon the wisest of all men.

I am not a religious person, but I believe in the power of myths that go along with the history of a people. Myths entail history, folk wisdom, they express fate and a sense of the future. What a wonderful thing, how unique and exceptional in the history of the nations is the fact that our national myth begins with the words: "Go to you!" These two words are like a musical key that determines the melody of the history of thousands of years. The onset, the wanderings, the longing for the homeland, the settling in the homeland.

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