The good news is that, continuing a nice Obama tradition, President Trump will be hosting a Passover seder at the White House this evening.
The bad news is that, at least as of this writing, the Host will not actually be attending himself.
According to Jewish Insider, the event will simply be an opportunity for observant White House staff that can’t be with their families to celebrate the Passover holiday among friends.
Really? There are observant White House staff who aren’t being let off work to celebrate with their families?
What about daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared, the First Jewish Family Once Removed? Have they been let off work to celebrate with Jared’s family?
Whatever, it really is too bad that the President won’t be sitting in.
There are many important lessons to be learned from the story of Passover, but perhaps the most important one, at this moment in American history, is the one drawn from the fact that the Israelites were strangers (Hebrew: gerim) in the land of Egypt.
The Bible repeatedly enjoins the Jews not to mistreat strangers, and even to love them, because of our experience in Egypt. As in Exodus 22:20: “You shall not taunt or oppress a ger for you were gerim in the land of Egypt.”
There is, in rabbinic Judaism, some debate over the precise meaning of ger. There are those, for example, who argue that the term properly refers only to residents of the Land of Israel who are proselytes to the faith.
Whatever meaning ger may have in certain later texts, that argument is irrelevant when it comes to the biblical injunction, which is an argument by analogy. We were once strangers in a strange land, therefore we must treat strangers in our land well.
Hear that, Mr. President?