"We Were Slaves"- from Studies on the Haggadah from the teachings of Nechama Leibowitz
עֲבָדִים הָיִינוּ, לְפַרְעֹה בְּמִצְרַיִם; וַיּוֹצִיאֵנוּ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ מִשָּׁם, בְּיָד חֲזָקָה וּבִזְרוֹעַ נְטוּיָה. וְאִלּוּ לֹא גָאַל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת אֲבוֹתֵינוּ מִמִּצְרַיִם, עֲדַיִן אָנוּ וּבָנֵינוּ וּבְנֵי בָנֵינוּ מְשֻׁעְבָּדִים הָיִינוּ לְפַרְעֹה בְּמִצְרַיִם. וְאַפִלּוּ כֻּלָּנוּ חֲכָמִים, כֻּלָּנוּ נְבוֹנִים, כֻּלָּנוּ יוֹדְעִים אֶת הַתּוֹרָה--מִצְוָה עָלֵינוּ לְסַפֶּר בִּיצִיאַת מִצְרַיִם; וְכָל הַמַּאֲרִיךְ בִּיצִיאַת מִצְרַיִם, הֲרֵי זֶה מְשֻׁבָּח.
We were slaves to Pharoah in Egypt, and the Lord, our God, took us out from there with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm. If the Holy One, Blessed be God had not taken our fathers out of Egypt, then we, our children and our children's children would still be enslaved to Pharoah in Egypt. Even if all of us were wise, all of us understanding, all elders and versed in the knowledge of the Torah, we would still be obligated to discuss the Exodus from Egypt; and everyone who discusses the Exodus from Egypt at length is praiseworthy. [Translation from Nechama Leibowitz Haggadah. Edited for gender neutrality]

Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. Why does this text serves as the opening text for the Passover Seder?

2. Why do we discuss the Exodus from Egypt thousands of years after it occurred?

3. What is the importance of collective memory? How does this memory help shape the Jewish community and its values?

Time Period: Rabbinic (Maccabees through the Talmud)