It’s no surprise that some people pointed out that Dave Abramowitz’s idea of God’s signature on our hands is a stretch. That’s because they’re correct. For what it’s worth, most of religion is a stretch.
OK, all of religion is a stretch. The essential reality of religion is that it can’t be proven. It has to be taken on faith, and that involves stretching beyond the empirically knowable to deciding to believe the unknowable.
Religion is built on myth. And I don’t mean myth as in Greek or Roman mythlogy. I mean it in the most positive sense of the word. As Rabbi Neil Gillman explains:
A myth should be understood as a structure through which a community organizes and makes sense of its experience… Myths are the [tools] that enable us to see order in what would otherwise be confusion….
Myths are intrinsic to communities. In fact, myths create communities. When they assume narrative form, they recount the community’s “master story,” explaining how that community came into being, what distinguishes it from other communities, how it understands its distinctive history and destiny, what constitutes its unique value system. A myth provides a community with its distinctive raison d’etre. Neil Gillman, Sacred Fragments: Recovering Theology for the Modern Jew.
The Passover story is a perfect example. There is absolutely no archeological proof of the Exodus from Egypt. Not one shred. And I don’t mean just the plagues; there’s no evidence of nearly a million people leaving Egypt, wandering around in the desert for decades, building a fancy portable Temple and hauling it around with them. None of it.
The veracity of the story isn’t the point. What is the point is the message of moving from slavery to freedom, redemption, finding meaning in the wilderness, learning how to be a community, struggling with each other, making it to the promised land. It’s the master story of the Jewish people. No wonder the Passover seder resonates for so many people. It’s one hell of a master story.