Bitcoin and Passover
Tonight is the first night of the Jewish holiday of Passover.
Although I am not religious, I was raised in a Jewish household and every year we would celebrate Passover — the holiday that commemorates the Jews’ exodus from enslavement in Egypt. (If you saw the movie The Ten Commandments, then you know the story.)
This holiday impresses upon every person who observes it, including the youngest members of each family, that slavery is evil and freedom is worth paying a great price for. In fact, there is a specific role for the youngest child at the start of the evening ceremony to ask four questions whose answers comprise the remainder of the evening and the first of the answers begins with the words “We were slaves in Egypt…”
Not only is the slavery recalled in stories and song, we eat foods that remind us of slavery — we literally eat food in salt water to represent the tears of the slaves, we eat unrisen bread to remember the urgency with which the escape from slavery took place, we eat a food that represents the mortar that the slaves had to use in their labour (a paste made from walnuts, apples and cinnamon) and we eat bitter herbs to remind us of the bitterness of the life of a slave.
As I was thinking about this holiday there were more than a few parallels and contrasts that occured to me between the ancient Israelites and many of us today who identify as Bitcoiners and Sovereignists and also those who don’t yet identify as such, but sense that something is very wrong.
1. The Jews were slaves of Pharoahs in Egypt. We are slaves of Central Bankers in the Globalized world economy.
2. The Jews relied on miracles from god, which were plagues of increasing severity inflicted upon the Egyptian society to achieve their freedom. We will rely on cryptography, Bitcoin, open source software and possibly more severe measures if we are to gain ours.
3. The Jews escaped to an unoccupied land (Canaan — “The Promised Land”). We will have to reclaim territory on land, but can also spread our wings in the limitless domain of cyberspace.
4. The Jews had to wander in the desert for forty years before arriving at the promised land. We too will have to labour for many years before achieving full sovereignty.
5. Despite his efforts, Moses (the leader of the Jews) did not get to enter the promised land. I have observed that Satoshi, whoever he was (and hopefully he still lives) had to make great sacrifice — that he will never be recognized as Satoshi and he will never spend the million bitcoins he mined.
Robert Breedlove identified some of these themes in part of his magnificent work “Masters and Slaves of Money”, which I am sharing with my entire extended family today. The timing is very apropos and this is the first Passover ever that his work has existed. I hope the reading of Robert’s article will become an annual tradition on Passover in my family and many others.
If you liked this article you’ll likely enjoy my Why Bitcoin series, which is a collection of short, 3 minute articles covering the most asked-about questions in Bitcoin.
Two other Passover additions, one serious and one funny, were pointed out by my family at dinner when I told them of this article:
1. At one point in this tale, the Egyptian Pharoah orders the first born children of all the Jews killed. The Jews evade the punishment by fooling Pharoah’s executioners through sacrificing lambs and spreading lamb’s blood on their doors to make them think the executions had taken place. To this day, Jewish families mark their doors with talismans called mezuzahs to recall this. Today, the oppressive orders of governments to confiscate money, can be achieved through bitcoiners concealing their ownership of bitcoin — the infamous boating accident.
2. The Passover meal only ends when the children present complete a competition among themselves to find the hidden piece of unleavened bread. They only turn it over to the head of the household in exchange for a monetary prize. This is clearly a foretelling of bitcoin mining where the miners are like the children and the block reward is the cash prize.