This coming Monday night, marks the beginning of the Passover holiday. Passover is known as the time of “the exodus” but is much more than a celebration of an important historical event -- the exodus of Jews from slavery in Egypt.
Passover throughout the generations remains a powerful symbol for true spiritual liberation. In other words, when Passover comes around, we are called to go beyond the memory of external slavery, meaning those who enslaved us in the past, to the more challenging issue of internal slavery, meaning how we enslave ourselves.
Passover – the time of liberation -- is when we seek to release ourselves from unworthy instincts and emotions, and from passions that do us harm. Put broadly, Passover is the time to discard negative beliefs that we have become enslaved by and move on. But when we are in the midst of our own slavery, It may seem impossible to become free. Are we held hostage to depression or anger, and where does one stop, and the other begin? And what about the pernicious addictions of all kinds? Is it any wonder that, for example, angry and depressed people are more likely to be anxious, more open to destructive excess of all kinds?
We are told that there is an "addictive personality." Yet, we find that, even in despair and darkness, where costly and trendy interventions fail, a Higher power can enable us to overcome the most profound addiction. And, at this time of year, all of us we must ask: How the can we successfully draw on the deepest energy of freedom?
The teachings of Chassidism can be seen more than simply religion or Judaism, but as scientific reality. As such, the process of liberation can be seen as an empirical formula requiring three important stages: (1) Submission, (2) Separation and (3). Sweetening.
(1) SUBMISSION. To achieve freedom, first, we must be fully aware of our enslavement. When do we know that we have become aware? When we can truly taste the bitterness of our enslavement, this step is what opens the door for us to submit to the call of liberation. This is analogous to when the addict hits "rock bottom."
(2) SEPARATION. To be liberated, we must detach from that which entraps us. We remind ourselves of the bitterness of our self-enslavement and we invoke our Higher Power to move to be truly liberated.
(3) SWEETENING, To arrive at freedom, memories of our self-enslavement motivate us to stay free. We realize that we can sweeten the bitterness of our past bondage with hopeful aspiration and positive integration.
And, as we convert negativity to light, we must focus on the here and now.
These three stages are alluded to in the Passover observances. The night before the Seder, we search in our home for leaven (bread), which causes rising, and symbolizes inflated ego. Consider that our arrogance is the root of emotional enslavement. Thus, to prepare for freedom, we are called to look inward, as we truthfully and deeply seek to realize where we are personally enslaved. When we acknowledge our self-destructive actions, we allow the light of liberation to pierce the darkness of our internal slavery.
After the ‘Leaven’ products are gone from our home, we refrain from eating the Leaven products throughout the holiday of Passover. This act of separation from "ego" products provides us with the possibility to attain freedom. The unleavened Matzah bread prepares us to sweeten the memories of slavery with the ensuing joy of true freedom.
Indeed, from the 'spiritual science' view, internal slavery is a symptom of deep confusion, exasperated by the inflated ego, that prevents us from seeing life. True freedom requires a higher level of understanding, as each of us becomes a vessel of a higher order.
This is why the ultimate freedom for the Jewish people 3,325 years ago came 49 days after the exodus, at Mt. Sinai, with the Divine revelation that opened our eyes to the deepest sense of our existence and purpose, which provided a path, indeed for all of humanity, a guide to everlasting freedom, and a way to live to our fullest potential.