Double Mitzvah – Pesach

Double Mitzvah Jewrotica Parsha

Written by David Bookbinder. David is an educator and part of the amazing Leadership Team of Jewrotica. For more of David’s columns, check out Double Mitzvah – Tzav, Double Mitzvah – Shmini, Double Mitzvah – Tazria, Double Mitzvah – Metzora, and last week’s column Double Mitzvah – Acharei Mot.

Rated PG-13
With great freedom comes great responsibility

Sex is pretty great; whatever kind you’re into and whomever you’re into, sex can be awesome. In today’s world we’re lucky to have a great deal of sexual freedom. We are more open and free than ever before to explore and express our sexuality. While there is still lots of discrimination and much progress to be made, we have the freedom to be who we want, to be with whomever we want, and to have sex how we want. But with this freedom comes a great burden.

Right now we are in the middle of Passover, celebrating the Israelites’ freedom from the oppressive Egyptians. We’ve gone through two seders and are probably sick of hearing about freedom, how important it is, remembering that we were slaves once, why it’s spiritually relevant, blah, blah, blah, etc. Can we learn anything new from this epic? Can the Exodus impact our sexual lives too?

Let’s start at the beginning. Why does Moshe care? Yes, God picked him to lead the people, some bushes burned, etc. But why Moshe? He wasn’t a slave. He can’t empathize with the suffering of his Hebrew brothers and sisters. His whole life he grew up in the palace. And yet…

Exodus 2:11-12
And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, he began to go out to his own people, and he saw their hard labor. [One day] he saw an Egyptian kill one of his fellow Hebrews. [Moses] looked all around, and when he saw there was no one [watching], he killed the Egyptian and hid his body in the sand.
*edited for gender neutrality

What would cause him to do such a thing? It seems he has an awareness that he is not Egyptian, but that doesn’t explain his behaviour. As far as we know, he grew up his whole life knowing that the Hebrews were slaves to be used by the Egyptians and that he himself was not a slave.

What Moshe realized is that his status in the world required him to act. Moshe knows he is a Hebrew but not a slave – in fact, he is quite privileged. Logically, it follows that it isn’t a given that Hebrews have to be slaves or even marginalized. It seems, therefore, that a Hebrew person should have the freedom to be like Moshe. Armed with this logic, Moshe acts against the abuse of his Hebrew brethren.

Our world is pretty great when it comes to sex and sexuality…for most of us. But for some it is a terrifying world of rampant abuse, torture, and dehumanization. According to some estimates, there are anywhere between 20 and 30 million slaves in the world, 80% of which are sex slaves. About 2 million of those sex slaves are children under the age of 16. The sex trade industry generates around $10 billion annually and almost one quarter of its consumers are U.S. citizens. The world is a much more sexually open place than it was 100, 50, even 10 years ago. But some of the factors which have led to that openness, e.g., the Internet, have also led to severe exploitation of others’ sexuality.

Having the freedom to embrace and express our own unique sexualities carries with it the burden to defend others from the suppression and exploitation of theirs. This is the lesson that Moshe’s seemingly arbitrary actions teach us. In fact, the next verse makes this explicit for us:

Exodus 2:13
Moses went out the next day, and [he saw] two Hebrew men were fighting. ‘Why are you beating your brother?’ he demanded of the one who was in the wrong.

Moshe understands that every person must have the freedom to not be abused. And as we finish off this Passover and enter a new season, let us all take this message to heart and to hand. Jewrotica values our freedom of sexual expression. This freedom demands that we do what we can to ensure that same freedom and security the world over. Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom.


Taking this message to heart is easy. Taking it to hand, and acting, is a little more difficult. Below please explore some of the resources I used to gather data and let’s work together to bring an end to not only the sex trade, but slavery of all kinds.


Jewrotica is a spankin' new project with the power to provide a voice for Jewish sexual expression and meaningful conversation. Jewrotica is an online community-in-the-making and a database of delicious and grin-inducing Jewish stories and confessions. Join us!