Every time I hear the word Pesach or Passover, I get cramped up. Most likely, because I can still remember the exaggerated cleaning of my childhood, the kitchen’s convert and the slavish hunting on chametz. Oftentimes I thought: what is it all about if Pesach should symbolize liberation?
After all, year after year, many of us sit around the table – sometimes absolutely worn-out by all that cleaning – and speak about the exodus of Egypt, as if we relive some of our own memories: “I carried two weighty backpacks around, held a screaming child in one hand, my knees were shaking and I had sand in my slippers. This is how I walked through the fixed walls of seawater. But boy, never have I felt so entirely free.” “Oh really? And you didn’t feel the backwash? Did it stop? How was it?” Right. This dialogue does not occur in any written version of the Haggadah though. Pain, a leader, ten plagues, packing stuff, matzos, getting the hell out of Egypt and finally, persistence paired with freedom.
Strong Passover traditions are one thing. It’s another thing to link those to spiritual and personal growth. Hence a thought: what is inside, will have to be realized on the outside. There shouldn’t be a discrepancy between inside and outside. The drive to undertake or change anything, comes from the inner being. In other words, work on a personal level will get tangible in society and around other people. For instance, slavery from the inside expresses itself as suppression on the outside. Nowadays, total freedom still is a big endeavour for many. What it means, differs per person and it may take diverse forms in various stages of life. Anyway, according to this idea, the request for total freedom will initially be expressed from the inside. As a result, that a person will know what to do next.
Egypt could symbolize an environment in which distress prevails, with suffering as a side effect. Even as an environment in which the spiritual life force will be tampered with and in which abuses are committed by dark forces. The inner human has to be convinced of the idea that he or she is worth much more than being a(n) (Egyptian) slave. He or she has to truly know that this is not meant to be his or her path. Subsequently, this will be reflected in society. It will become more than obvious that such an – to say the least, static – environment does not fit anymore. Chametz could symbolize the early accumulated ego, needed at first to get this realization inside and to show resistance from the outside. Besides, it could symbolize the distorting elements from a previous version of that person, which serve no purpose anymore and actually work against freedom. The exodus could symbolize complete liberation, in the sense of not being bound to time and not being temporarily. Returning to that environment and taking the same path backwards, is just useless. The sea could symbolize over the top events and an environment in which a person experiences the sweetest kind of freedom ever existing.
The Passover tradition to reflect on the theme of liberation, becomes really powerful when the stairway to freedom is experienced from the here and now. Thus, personal matters provide recognition and the Seder offers instructions. So, all that cleaning from when I was young and living at home? Oh, for me, it’s just a shadow in comparison to the hasty preparations and enjoyable celebration nowadays. It’s time for another gut feeling when hearing the word Pesach or Passover. Perhaps a feeling of preservation and endurance. Plus, the week (of matzos) will be over soon and we will be liberated for another whole year.