How do I explain the meaning of Passover to a table of already hungry people with short attention spans? Given my tendency to ramble it’s impossible. Just try to grasp this and take a sip of wine every so often to hold off the hunger pains and irritable emotions.
The most concise explanation of just about every Jewish holiday is, “They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat.” That may be true but there is more to be said. Jews look at all of their holidays at two levels, if not 2000. At one level there is the traditional ritual and story about Moses and wandering in the desert for 40 years without a GPS, 5 hour energy drinks, or power bars. We commemorate their struggle to obtain freedom from slavery in Egypt and God’s promise of a Jewish homeland to those who recognize and respect his covenant (special one time offer). There is also a second hidden or mystical level in which all the symbols on the Seder plate represent something even more important and transcendent than they first appear. At the mystical level, which is emphasized and discussed more often in Kabbalistic Judaism, Moses’s journey to the Promised Land is like a roadmap to spiritual enlightenment and One-ness with God and especially the qualities that are divinely inspired within us.
Like the Jews who were slaves under the Pharoah in Egypt, we grow out of our childhood dependencies and leave our homes and our families to seek happiness, wealth, success, fulfillment, knowledge and personal freedom. Often, like Moses we wander for many years lost, confused, pissed off, half crazy, and completely unsure of where we are going and even if it’s really worth it. Many debate the actual meaning of the traditional Passover meal but some things are indisputable. We all need to feel a connection to others and have empathy. We all suffer some form of setback, loss, and trauma and struggle to recover our faith and sense of purpose. We all have to appreciate what we DO have and not dwell too much on what we dont have. We all have to look forward to the Springtime, the moments of rebirth and regeneration in our body, minds, and souls, and warm ourselves up by the spiritual hearth and flame of what we have discovered (like buried treasure) to be the most truthful, meaningful, wise, and everlasting. We all have to ponder when it is time in our life to take a substantial risk, to be brave and courageous and strike out for something more important. We all have to consider that there is a degree of mystery and magic in life and something greater then ourselves and our egos in this material universe of Kardashians, Keurig coffemakers, Klonopin and computers.
Passover is just a (yearly) reminder to think big, to trust yourself, to believe in the divine spirit within each and every one of us, and to include others in the symbolic hope and dream of not just material freedom but personal freedom as well. We are reminded to have great courage and conviction to follow our dreams and fight against anyone or anything that would oppress us or lead us toward false idols and superficial desires. Amen
P.S. Arrrgh me ‘brew-ish buckos and buccaneers! Give thanks to the Greatest Pirate of them all and take another sip of Manischewitz grog. L’Chaim Y’all!