Passover – An Underdog Story

by Rabbi Adam Miller

During a trip to Philadelphia, I stoppedat an airport store for a last minute purchase. Approaching the counter I noticed the classic film Rocky playing on a television screen. While the Italian Stallion battled it out with Apollo Creed, I asked the clerk if she ever tired of listening to the film. “Surprisingly not,”she replied. “This film is what our city is about – the unexpected success of an underdog given no chance to succeed. Just like the American Revolution.”

An odd couple, Rocky and the American Revolution do have connections. There is a human desire for fairness. When two uneven forces are pitted against one another, we want to see the less likely outcome of David defeating Goliath. We simply love to root for the little guy – be it Rocky Balboa, George Washington, or Moses.

Celebrated this year from the evening of April 10th through April 18th, the underdog element makes Passover memorable. A people who have been enslaved for generations, finally finding a leader willing to stand up for justice and freedom. One could argue that Moses defies the title underdog,after all, he has God in his corner. Be that as it may, no one had ever stood up to Pharaoh. The Israelites were servants for quite some time before Moses became the first to stand up. The struggle through the Ten Plagues leaves both reeling, like Rocky and Apollo Creed, and at the end neither side wants are match. The Israelites bolt so fast they don’t allow their bread to fully bake. Once they cross the Sea of Reeds, they rejoice in their new freedom.

These famous stories of underdog success stand out today in our risk-averse culture. We hesitate to take on tasks where we fear the possibility of failure. What if Moses said no at the burning bush and turned away from the Divine call for justice because he thought he might not succeed? Our world has evolved because of those willing to take risks in the tradition of Moses and David – leaders like the American revolutionaries and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. These individuals embraced their roles as the underdog and stood up for what they believed in: freedom, justice and equality.

Passover is a celebration of freedom, and the understanding that the path to freedom requires risks. May we each find the courage needed in our pursuit of justice and freedom, for ourselves and others.

As long as there is a possibility of success, there is hope that one day we will all be free.Wishing you and yours blessings for peace,

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