On Friday night Jews are celebrating the first night of Passover, which commemorates their Exodus from Egypt at around 1300 BCE. For the last 33 hundred years, the story is retold every year. But 2000 years ago, the story received a new twist. A group of Jews were celebrating the holiday through a prescribed meal after which their leader, Yeshua, who according to the author Reza Aslan, was a Jewish religious Zealot whose name in Hebrew derives from “to rescue, to deliver”, was arrested. The charge: threat to the Roman rule in Palestine.
According to Christian tradition, he was crucified and three days later resurrected. Some years later, his story was retold by different authors. His name was translated into a Greek name and be became known as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ—and a new religion was born. The irony is that after the Romans crucified him, many years later, Rome became the center of the Catholic Church.
The name Easter, according to Wikipedia, is connected to the word “Pash” in Latin, which leads to the Hebrew “Pesah”. This brings us back to the original story. In the Torah description of the events, which led to the Exodus where God inflicted 10 plagues onto Egypt, to force the Pharaoh to let the Hebrew slaves go to the desert and to serve their mysterious and all-powerful God. The last (tenth) plague was the death of all of the first born children. To protect the homes of the Hebrews, God instructed them to mark the thresholds of all of the doors belonging to the Hebrew people with the blood of a slaughtered lamb (which became known as the Paschal lamb).
Thus, the angel of death “pasah”, which means passed over the homes of the Hebrews and inflicted death only on the Egyptians. As you might know, after spending 40 years in the desert, the study of the laws and rules of God (the oldest and longest educational system), former slaves became the Jewish Nation and after crossing the Jordan river, they captured and settled in the territory where many, many years later, was born a man who became known as Jesus Christ, and whose life and teachings are very much connected to what his ancestors learned in the desert and years after that.
Now two-thousand years later, we are back to where we started. We celebrate the belief that there is power beyond our comprehension, that which we call God. But also realize that despite the difference in the story, we all come from the same spiritual source and instead of focusing on our differences, we can choose to focus on what unites us. I call it love.
Mount Sinai, where God’s commandments were given, is in a desert. The territory is a place which does not belong to anybody, but is where the ideas of freedom were nurtured. Despite all the progress in the world, we still have many deserts that actually mean unlimited possibilities. The “desert” I photographed is along Highway 5 on the way to Los Angeles.
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