PESACH AND OUR MOVEMENT

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By: Kito Hasson

We can point out at least three aspects inherent to Pesach that share a singular educational,
conceptual and experiential unity with Hanoar Hatzioni. And they are: Nachshon Ben
Aminadav, the first Halutz; Pesach, the great festival of the Aliya; and Chazak Ve’ematz, the
greeting and the message of Moses to Joshua.

Nachshon Ben Aminadav, the First Halutz

Nachson1, who is vaguely remembered from the departure from Egypt, owns the symbolic and
practical value of having been the first HALUTZ. The story reveals that upon his departure from
Goshen, facing the Red Sea, on the path towards the desert and the Promised Land, the
hundreds of thousands of Jews facing the sea stopped, hesitant and congested, threatened and
discouraged. How would they cross the sea? Logically, they would have to conclude their

Exodus there. And then, in front of everyone, Nachshon stepped forward and with firm steps
and an iron will, approached the sea and began crossing the waters. While he could not have
been sure that the sea would part, the only other option was returning to the Egyptian slavery,
giving up on the march to freedom and on the national consolidation in the Land of Israel.
Nachshon Ben Aminadav did not hesitate: there was only one direction and only one way- to
pass through the waves of the Red Sea and open the way to the masses of the people behind
him, towards freedom in the Promised Land.

Nachshon was, without a doubt, the first Halutz. Hanoar Hatzioni is nurtured by his example,
walking in the forefront, in the first row, setting the example and raising within it the will and
the courage, the audacity and the conviction to follow the path, facing dangers and seemingly
insurmountable difficulties .
Nachshon belonged to the Tribe of Judah and was the brother of Elisheva, the wife of Aaron, the
brother and the “voice” of Moses. In the present time, the Hebrew expression “Nachshon’s
Jump” is synonymous with “pioneer audacity .”

Pesach – the Great Festival of the Aliyah

Historically, there is no doubt that Pesach is the only holiday which materializes the
significance and centrality of the Aliyah. This Chag tells the marvelous and almost incredible
fact of 600,000 Jews making Aliyah .

Without a passport or suitcase, without a Ministry of Immigrant Absorption nor a Jewish
agency, without subsidies or a Hebrew Ulpan, without Shlichim and bureaucratic
administration. Yes, 600,000!!! Moreover, since the tenth century, Pesach points out the
importance ad centrality of Aliyah through songs and prayers saying, “Next year in
Yerushalayim”. Conceptually, it emphasizes, in every paragraph of the Haggadah, the latent
state of foreignness and slavery (material, spiritual or both) outside Israel. Pesach in its context
of Aliyah is the spiritual and material ascension of a people in their pursuit and struggle for
liberation, for the return to their land, for their law, their culture and their customs .

The message and the national imperative of the Aliyah is a central focus in our Jewish and
Zionist education, in our commitment to impart to the youth the understanding, the feeling and
the strength of realization to make Aliyah. Therefore, Pesach is, for our movement in particular,
a national Jewish moment that goes far beyond its traditions, values and forms known to
everyone. It is the festival of the Aliyah and self-realization in all its educational and ideological
value .

Chazak Ve’ematz, the Greeting and Message of Moshe to Yehoshua Ben Nun

The greeting “Chazak Ve’ematz”, which characterizes and personalizes Hanoar Hatzioni, shares
its origin, explanation and content with the holiday of Pesach. “Chazak Ve’ematz” are the words
of message and greeting with which Moses, at the end of his days and before entering the
Promised Land, directed to his successor in the leadership of the people, Yehoshua Ben-Nun.

“Be Strong and Have Courage” is God’s personal and collective call, expressed through Moshe to
Yehoshua and to all the people. It is not, of course, a call for muscular and material strength and
for the courage of the audacious and gallant warriors. This call and these words are, first and
foremost, a message of spiritual strength and moral courage, to be worthy of God and his law.
Being strong and courageous to continue the way, to preserve the values and faith, and not
decay in front of the vicissitudes of the path. Being strong and courageous, not letting the
dangers bring us to despair and, instead, facing them united .

This greeting of “Chazak Ve’ematz” from Moshe to Yehoshua symbolizes a transfer of enormous
responsibility for the leading of the still wandering in the desert people, who possibly have not
forgotten yet “the fleshpots of Egypt”. It is a call for strength and courage, against pessimism,
disunity and fear, against the horror or the fatigue of continuing the path toward freedom and
national independence. It is a call, from one to another, to strengthen each other and spread courage in front of the dangers and battles that each generation and each place yield our people .

Again, it is not for fleeting heroism or vain courage that Hanoar Hatzioni chooses to adopt such
words, content, mission and imperative. Hanoar Hatzioni as a true Zionist, Jewish and Halutzi
youth movement self-imposes this motto and the flag of “Be Strong and Have Courage” for the
people and their destiny.

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