Pesach (“Passover”): Transforming Blemishes into Divine Wonders
The potential of every Jew is to express Divinity. The Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, means “constraints.” Constraints are the inability to fully express oneself. In Egypt, the Jewish people were constrained, and could not fully express Divinity. The redemption from the constraints of Egypt is the Divine power and the miracle of the holiday of Pesach.
The Passover Seder Plate: Mystical Meditations
The Passover Seder is replete with revealed and hidden significance. The following is a brief outline of the mystical dimension of the Seder Plate.
Parashat Beshalach: Experiencing the Exodus while praying
In Parashat Beshalach we reach the climax of the exodus from the Egyptian exile―the parting of theRed Sea and the song the Children of Israel sang at the sea. Although the Jewish people had physically left Egypt, until they actually saw the entire Egyptian army dead at the seashore, they constantly looked back in fear that the Egyptians were close at their heels. It was then that the Jewish people were released from the paranoid fear that had held them in its clutches. At that moment they saw God’s might in redeeming them so clearly that they began singing, “This is my God and I will extol Him.”
The War of the Reptiles
The Zohar on Parashat Bo offers a mysterious and most profound explanation why God told Moses “Come to Pharaoh” instead of “Go to Pharaoh.” In a mystical allegory, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai describes how the Almighty brought Moses through rooms within rooms, until he reached the upper tanin (תַּנִין), a type of fearful spiritual reptile.
Cleanliness of Speech, Purity of Thought, Chastity of Deed
In the ten-rung ladder of spiritual growth outlined by Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair, three consecutive rungs are: “Cleanliness brings one to purity, purity brings one to chastity (i.e., abstinence from overindulging in physical pleasures).”
Egocentricity (chametz) is the source of all psychological confinement (Egypt). No slave could escape the confining borders of Egypt. The Exodus is the miracle of breaking through the borders of Egypt by nullifying one’s sense of egocentricity.
The Last Exile
The children at the Seder table ask their father to explain to them the meaning of all the unique customs that we perform on the first night of Pesach. We are all children of our Father in heaven, and while turning to our physical father we simultaneously turn to Him and ask: “What is the difference between this night and all other nights? …” “Night” symbolizes exile. We begin by asking our father (and Father in heaven) to explain to us the difference between this, final exile and all previous exiles.
Freedom of Speech
God does not reveal, even to the greatest of prophets, exactly when the Mashiach will come and bring redemption to the world. God wants us to believe that Mashiach can arrive this very day, and pray as earnestly as we can that he indeed arrives today. The sages have provided us with various signs to know when the time is ripe, but we can never really know for sure, we can only believe and pray. This is exactly what God wants, for He desires that we nurture in our souls messianic consciousness, a state of consciousness that is not one of knowledge but one of faith and prayer.
Mouth to Mouth
Informing Miriam and Aaron of the unique level of their brother Moses’ prophecy, God says: “I speak to him mouth to mouth.” The phrase “mouth to mouth” alludes to the two redemptions of Purim and Pesach.
Not Knowing How to Ask
The silent child is a riddle. What is the genuine reason for their silence? Is it because they really don’t know how to ask, or because they don’t want to ask? Do they really have problems expressing themselves even more than the simple son?