This month, we will celebrate the holiday of Passover. Most of us will participate in some kind of a Seder, whether in person or online, and we will retell the story of our Exodus from Egypt. In Jewish mystical circles, ‘mitzrayim’ (the Hebrew word for Egypt) is a narrow place, a place of constriction. We encounter these narrow places in our everyday lives.
We encounter mitzrayim when we are waiting in line at the post office and we feel those angry impulses start to rise. We encounter mitzrayim when we’re with our families and we replay the roles we have played for years, often even repeating the same conversations. We encounter mitzrayim when we have a disagreement with a romantic partner that brings up our inner defenses. The challenge for us on a daily basis is to break free from these unconscious patterns. And we can do that by bringing our awareness into the present moment, catching ourselves before we fall into old routines and reactions.
Once we are able to move into the present, we can zoom out from our limited view of ourselves. We can remind ourselves that we are, in fact, spiritual beings who are larger than our individual personal dramas. We can apply the wisdom of the Passover story to our daily lives. Rather than being confined to the slavery of our past, we can symbolically open the door for Elijah, to the hope of a new future… which of course requires dying to our former selves.
May we take a new look at our traditions this year, and hopefully begin to see them with fresh eyes…