Psalm 78

We will not withhold from their children down to the last generation, telling of the praises of Adonai, God’s might, and the wonders that God performed. (78:4)

Psalm 78 is a relatively long Psalm, retelling the story of Exodus and trek in the wilderness. Telling the story is a sacred enterprise, relating in prose and poetry to each new generation the tale of what God did for us in Egypt in order to inspire their confidence in God. The telling, however, does not hide the fact that the generation of the wilderness was not inspired. They rebelled and complained and sinned. Why not tell the story a bit more strongly? Why spend so much time on the weakness of the Israelites? Clearly, honesty is important. If our faith in God is based on hiding the truth, it will be think faith indeed. A faith that struggles with God but experiences redemption in the end has been tested and strengthened.

The events that we are relating at the Passover Seder are true, not necessarily in the historical sense, but in the sense that they reflect the truth of the experience of an oppressed people. An oppressed, enslaved people is traumatized. Even after freedom comes to them, they are still largely locked in their slave mentality. It can take generations to overcome the trauma which is transmitted from parent to child through stories. That’s why this Psalm is so important. We’re not telling the story of trauma and victimization. We’re telling the story of faith and redemption.

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