Happy Passover. The themes of liberation and freedom that greet us every year at our “seder” can also be seen in very personal terms. After all, here is a festval that confronts us in very personal terms, asking us to see the Exodus in symbolic ways. Passover IS personal. It calls us each year to examine our fears and calls us to have the courage, as the Israelites did, to move forward in life. The “Mitzraim” of our own souls often keeps us enslaved. Thus, Passover is about our ability to seek our own true passions and move to our own “promised land”.
In looking through a collection of “haggadot”, I came across a recent one called “The Holistic Haggadah” (published by Michael Hagan in 2002. Lamda Pub. Brooklyn, NY) There are some wonderful meditations and readings, very mystsical in a way, that accompany each “seder” rubric. The commentary speaks a lot to these themes of personal liberation and freedom, asking as to what we are “hungry” for (the “bread” of affiction section) and looking at what it means to be free. “Freedom”, it says, “is to be totally free to choose to live fully the life that God has destined for us. And what prevents this? The fear that arises from the mind (ego), that without holding on to something we are a nothing. So, we become enslaved by the illusion that by holding on to something in the temporal plane of existence we will find an anchor in the sea of chaos and this anchor creates the illusion of security and the ‘security’ creates the illsuion of freedom”. (p.49).
So, here is a thought. When we ask “why is this night different from all others?”, think about asking your own soul that question not because you are sitting at ‘seder” and this is what you are supposed to do. Rather, ask yourself what can make this night different from all others for me? Are you prepared to move forward in your life, to free yourself from the narrow places that hold you back from your true self and passion? “The Exodus from Mitzraim is about the willingness to let go and be different”.(p.50) If you leave that “seder” the same as when you came, perhaps it is as if your soul is still bound up in the Miztraim that keeps you enslaved. That open door for Elijah may just be an invitation for your soul to begin its own Exodus to your own truth.
Have a sweet and healthy Passover.
Rabbi Richard F Address, D.Min
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.