What is the meaning of the Shankbone/Beet?

Point to the Shankbone or the Beet and ask:

What is the meaning of the Shankbone?
Joseph sat in the full moonlit, cloudless night. The plentiful rains had turned the sloping hillsides a verdant green. The pleasant fragrance of the grasses and flowers mingled with the pungent flock around him. Kids snuggled near their mothers beside the still waters at the foot of the hills, some still suckling, most asleep. Once the days got significantly longer than the nights he would have to move the flocks to the summer pastures. Joseph had already used his staff to separate some of the new males he'd seen butting against each other, testing their strength. He could imagine and did not look forward to their fights if too many came along to the north.

Behind him Joseph smelled the sweet aroma of roasting meat. He would soon share in the feast of the yearlings. He felt a pang of remorse that so many of these little ones, who had been in his care, could not live. So much of his life depended on them: for milk and cheese and for the wool garment he wore. But to let them join in the trek would only cause greater troubles as the grasses diminished.

Joshua contacted his most trusted fighters. They called themselves (cryptically) the "What" or "Mah" after their acronym the MemHeh for Malakh haMavet the Angel of Death. Tonight they would act as the arm of God and strike terror into the hearts and souls of their Egyptian tormentors. Moses had already instructed them to smear the blood of the yearlings on the Hebrew's doorposts.

The full moonlight would show which houses to avoid and pass over. They had to move swiftly and silently through the city in order to return to their families before dawn. Then they would leave their hovels as the redemption occurred. As the howl of Egyptian parents rose.

We recall these ancient events and do our part to make ourselves protectors and not tormentors. This Shankbone/Beet brings many images to mind. If we can learn well what it meant in the past, it shall indicate for us today that this house shall be passed over.

Haggadah and Liberation

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Last modified on March 30, 2000