Passover 2021: Would Pharaoh have allowed Israelites to travel with a vaccine passport?

Happy Passover, starting tonight, for readers who are practicing Jewcraft. We celebrate G*d facilitating our travel from Egypt to Israel, which Pharaoh had purportedly obstructed. “Once We Were Slaves, Now We Are Free” is the conventional sentiment to express.

I wonder if Passover 2021 should be modified. Jews in most parts of the world are not, in fact, free to travel. Borders are closed (except to the undocumented coming to the U.S.; read what Obama’s Border Patrol chief has to say) or obstructed via administrative requirements. In many parts of the world, people (including Jews) are not free to leave their apartments, work at their trade, teach children, gather with friends, etc. If they can do any of these things at the moment, that’s by permission of the local rulers and the freedoms can be revoked at any time. (66 governor’s orders so far here in Maskachusetts; see Freedom to travel, Maskachusetts $500/day edition)

For American Jews, “Once We Were Slaves, Now We Are Free” should be replaced during this year’s Seder with “Once We Were Slaves, Now We Are as Free as Our Governor Wants Us To Be”? Jews in Ireland could say “Once We Were Slaves, Now We Are Free to Wait Another Few Months Before Going More Than 5 km From the House” (pubs are still closed too!) Those Jews in the Czech Republic who survived the animosity of some of their neighbors and the Germans can say “Once We Were Slaves, Now We Are Free to Watch TV at Home” (Euronews: “the government is set to limit the free movement of people by not allowing them to travel to other counties”)?

(Note that historical “slavery” in Ancient Egypt may simply have been the requirement to pay 20 percent of one’s income in tax. See Passover thoughts on slavery in Egypt and Passover Tax Day thoughts. So it might be more accurate to say “Once we paid 20 percent tax. Now we pay 90 percent and vote for Elizabeth Warren who promises to raise that to 98 percent.” Note also that the “Egyptians” who purportedly enslaved (or taxed) the Israelites have been mostly replaced by Arabs via conquest and immigration; the “Egyptians” of the Torah survive as today’s Coptics. Note further that the dramatic events of Exodus cannot be confirmed by scholars reading the excellent records that Ancient Egyptians kept. When a Swiss friend asked what she should bring to the (potentially legal depending on how you read the 66 Maskachusetts Governor’s executive orders) Seder we are hosting, I replied “Häagen-Dazs because the academics tell us that the Jews were never in Egypt so we should eat the Bronx-based ice cream that was never in Denmark“.)

Cairo, 1992:

Also, what would be the Facebook fact check if someone in a locked down country were to post “Let My People Go”? How about this: “Science proves that travel restrictions are an effective means of fighting Covid.”

Original post:

When Israel was in Egypt’s land
Let my people go
Oppress’d so hard they could not stand
Let my people go

Go down, Moses
Way down in Egypt’s land
Tell old Pharaoh
Let my people go

Facebook Fact Karens:

Dr. Fauci and the CDC recommend that Americans avoid Passover gatherings and travel.


10 thoughts on “Passover 2021: Would Pharaoh have allowed Israelites to travel with a vaccine passport?

  1. I don’t know about all of that…. but I am wondering if Moses was around today do you think he would hold up his staff and part the Ever Given?

  2. @Philg:

    Philg’s sense of humor is as incisive as ever, and on this Passover, I’d like to offer some thanks and praise to our host. I think Philip’s motivation (insofar as I can discern it — since even trained psychologists have a hard time doing so) to emphasize freedom and question all the restrictions on our liberties during this Plague is a noble and profoundly moral stance for him to take. You never, ever let our various governments and their functionaries abolish or restrict freedoms without questioning the rationale and pushing back against their prohibitions with as much force as you can.

    I’m honored to know you, Philip. חַג כָּשֵׁר וְשָׂמֵחַ

    • Philip carries on the great American tradition of questioning authority. I concur in your thanks and praise for the host!

  3. Dear Hooknose,

    Wasn’t the Passover the first recorded lockdown against disease, but with sheep’s blood on doorways instead of face diapers to ward off the plagues?

    Does Pharoah Fauci actually want to let people get on with their lives, but the Lord constantly hardens his heart and he keeps us in bondage?

    Is the movie The Ten Commandments pretty much beefcake porn for chicks that got past the censors and the mores of the 1950’s by adopting a Biblical theme?

    And how about a little love for us Christians? This Friday we memorialize the day that envious Jews crucified our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for sedition and rioting in the Temple and claiming the office of King of the Jews despite losing the election.

    Yours Truly,
    Pope Emeritus Benedict

    • Your Holiness,

      You know, your post got me a-thinkin’. It made me realize that most Deplorables who voted for Donald Trump where the kind of people who wave the flag from their pickup trucks with gun racks, talk loud and proud about their patriotism and respect for the military, and volunteer to serve in it. They have a mythical false consciousness about the Greatness of the USA and vote against their own economic self interest when they support Republicans. And then they go and get shipped overseas, shot or blown up, come back dead or paralyzed or brain damaged from all the wars our elites can’t stand and do their best to stay out of! And some of them come back war criminals or worse kinds of maniacs, and then get dumped on even more by those same elites.

      Since that’s who the Deplorables are, why would anyone in their right mind let them vote for their choice of candidate, particularly one who used bone spurs as an excuse for himself not to go and fight, and then got four other exemptions ’cause he was in one of them elite Universities?

    • Dear Alex,

      That Donald Trump is no good. When the Wehrmacht called me up to fight for the fatherland, I answered the call without question!

      Yours in the Blood of Christ,


  4. Looks like Phil is auditioning for the role of the wicked child. I mean we don’t even know what happened in Wuhan 18 months ago but we know what occurred in Egypt 3-4 thousand years ago?

  5. I recently attended a Seder in Taipei with probably about 200 people in attendance (taking advantage of Taiwan’s COVID-free status). We used the Beijing Haggadah (, which
    notes that not all Jews are as free as those lucky enough to live in Beijing (the artwork depicts kids crossing the parted Red Sea wearing Beijing school uniforms). Perhaps you might want to consider a move! Although Taiwan is probably still the winner in COVID-era freedom, not yet having had to resort to lockdowns or anal swabs.

  6. Pharaoh turned out to be not that devious at the end. He even did not use something like vaccine passport to keep Israelites in slavery. Maybe that’s why at the end God through Moses commands Israelites be good to Egyptians in the future.

    There are plenty non – Bible references to Israelites and Moses in Egypt. For example from Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria, who himself was an Egyptian Jew who also spoke and wrote in Greek and who considered to be likely progenitor of Christianity.

    Bible itself is the most valuable historic document that exists. There are X-IX BCE stone tablet fragments with Hebrew encryption of complete verses from Bible how they are printed now. Yesterday it was reported that complete 2,000 years – old scroll was apparently recovered from a robbery in Turkey; it was from ancient Aleppo synagogue destroyed in 1930th; the scroll itself was stolen because of its huge market value.

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