This week we will read the last of the plagues, the instruction from God to establish a calendar, based on the moon cycles, to carry out the Passover sacrifice of roasted meat, matzo, and bitter herb. We are commanded to wear tefillin.
Wow- only a few more commandments to learn, all 613 in due course!
Until that time, years were denominated by the name of the local ruler. For example.” In the second year of the reign of X”. Until the return from Babylon we simply numbered the months, so Nissan became the first month. (Rosh Hashana is actually called the first day of the 7th month.)
But perhaps the most striking thing is that we are told to remember and to educate our children. The famous instruction, to have our children ask questions in the Seder service, appears this week. This instruction is repeated in Devarim
Other civilisations ask children to obey and not question. There was the adage “children should be seen and not heard” There was no word in Hebrew “to obey” when Hebrew was revived, and it had to be imported from Aramaic. The word, “Shema”, translates as to listen, to hear, to understand and to respond.
Judaism is the rarest of phenomena: a faith based on asking questions. Those branches of Judaism who rely on a rigid reading of dogma sometimes seem to forget this. We do not.