Mimouna in Israel, 2024: A Glimpse of Brotherhood Amidst Turmoil

In the month of Nissan, we were redeemed from Egypt, and in the month of Nissan, we are destined to be redeemed in the future, according to an ancient rabbinic quote: “B’Nissan nigalnu, v’b’Nissan atidim l’higael.” This quote is the source of the Mimouna feast, celebrated annually among Sephardi Jews and Hassidim at the end of the Passover Festival. This year, we celebrate Mimouna amid a global upheaval centred in Israel.

The Essence of Mimouna

Amidst the ongoing war that began last October 7, Mimouna stands as a symbol of hope. More than just a celebration, Mimouna holds the promise of global redemption. It represents the day our prophets speak of, when ‘the lion will lie down with the lamb,’ and all nations will transform their weapons into tools to feed the hungry and those experiencing poverty. It reaffirms the enduring faith of Jews in a future world of peace and cooperation among all peoples.

This year, we are celebrating Mimouna during a time of war that involves not only Israel but the entire world. Since October 7, 2023 Israel and the Jewish community have been under intense global scrutiny due to the invasion and massacre of Israelis by Hamas and the ongoing state of war in Israel and Gaza. There has been a significant increase in anti-Israel/Pro-Palestinian protests on the streets of various cities and at prestigious universities worldwide, including McGill University in Canada, the Sorbonne in France, and Columbia, Penn, and Stanford in the US. These war-provoking protests are a threat not only to Jews but also to innocent men, women, and children across the globe. They jeopardize the stability of the entire world. For a detailed analysis of the sources of geopolitical anti-Israel and antisemitic sentiments, I recommend the work of Francisco Gil-White, a contemporary scholar and historian.

Our adversaries continue to hold over 130 innocent hostages and pose additional threats. However, the resilience of the Israeli people and Jews globally is genuinely inspiring. They persevere in the face of adversity, their unwavering commitment to peace and justice embodying the essence of Mimouna. It is a testament to the strength of the Jewish spirit and the universal Jewish pursuit of peace and harmony.

From Miracles to Human Responsibility

But while Jewish tradition prophesies a time of world peace, we consistently emphasize that Jews “do not rely on miracles.” This principle is underscored throughout our Torah:

“The Bible’s ultimate process is a movement away from visible miracles and public (heavenly) revelation toward a process of education and persuasion to get people to act properly. Increasingly, the historical outcomes are dependent on human behavior and the equilibrium of forces rather than on divine intervention. By the time we reach the Talmud, the Rabbis tell us that the age of prophecy (direct messages from Heaven) and of visible miracles is over. Such miracles are too ‘coercive.’ God wants humans to use their reason and emotions and choose to do the right thing out of free will and choice.” (Rabbi Yitz Greenberg essay: Do Not Rely on a Miracle: Parshat Beshallach 5781)

Embracing Mimouna

As I sit here amongst tonight’s festivities, surrounded by my loved ones, I am reminded of Rabbi Akiva’s wise words: ‘Do not do to your neighbour what you would not have done to yourself.’ These words are significant in today’s society, where the world remains divided and filled with discord. Let us all embrace the joyous atmosphere of Mimouna and reflect on its powerful message of hope and redemption.

May this celebration inspire all of us to work tirelessly towards a future where freedom and justice prevail and humanity can thrive in peace and harmony. We must remember that only our actions can bring about this positive future. It is now up to you and me!


Footnotes:

  1. Francisco Gil-White and others have pointed out that these anti-Israel perspectives are associated with traditional geopolitical hostility towards Jews, Muslim/Jihadi ideology, and the Progressive/Communist ideology born in the USSR, all of which pose challenges to democracy, freedom, and global cooperation and stability. For further exploration of this, I refer you to the work of Francisco Gil White: Geopolitical and Historical Insights on Jews, Israel and the Battle Against Antisemitism.
  2. Greenberg, Yitz. “Do Not Rely on a Miracle: Parshat Beshallach 5781.” Hadar.org, https://www.hadar.org/torah-tefillah/resources/do-not-rely-miracle.