A Holiday Note: We wish you a wonderful Passover and Easter celebration, full of moments of joy, family and freedom. To honor the holiday, next week we will be on break. From our family to yours, Israel Between the Lines.
Sometimes I feel like a slave. Sometimes my phone is my master, shackling me into the blue light, binding me into checking every notification, infiltrating my ability to accomplish any one task, heavy with the force of whatever news greets me on the other side of the screen. Sometimes I feel mastered by my job, my relationship, my family or my own beliefs, chained to my need to succeed based on society’s definition, caged into what I or they think I ‘should’ be doing, compelled into meeting others or my own expectations.
It seems like we’re all slaves to something, whether it be our screen, our society, our selves – or perhaps all of the above. It might not be the backbreaking physical labor of slavery’s past. Today’s brand of slavery seems more like a mental cage. It’s as if we are trapped in our own chaotic minds derived from our collective system, pressured to work to build companies instead of catacombs, personas instead of personalities, caste systems instead of communities.
How do we escape this kind of slavery? How do we feel the most free?
As Passover approaches, the story of the Jews escaping slavery from Egypt to find their freedom shares numerous parallels which can help us reflect today. Moses took lead and asked Pharaoh to ‘let his people go.’ This request was refused, and so Pharaoh and the Egyptian people suffered through ten plagues until Pharaoh finally consented. Once so, the Jews quickly gathered their belongings, and started their journey to freedom, with Moses’ sister Miriam, leading the pack in celebration and joy all the way.
From Moses, we learn of his courage to ask for what he knows is right for his people, and trust it will be. It’s only when we display courage to ask ourselves the tough questions, that we have the chance to let go of what we no longer need to move forward towards finding our freedom. From Miriam, we learn to display the strength necessary to celebrate life with hope and optimism, despite the hardship and uncertainty surrounding us with every step.
Today, Jewish families gather and read the Haggadah, the story of Passover, through a long and laborious meal, called a Seder, which means “order”. Every piece of that meal, from the food eaten to the blessings spoken to the stories read, is intentionally a way to reflect the Jewish ancestors shifting from slavery to freedom.
Some may see the Passover tradition as repetitive, tiring and frustrating. However, if we as individuals choose to use the opportunity to reflect on the order in our own lives, then Passover can be a time to hit refresh and truly spring into a powerful phase forward.
Passover is also a welcoming of springtime, and as a new cycle of growth greets us, we as humans have the chance to blossom too, shifting forward, each waking day a chance to break free from the old system and grow into the new.
Where in our lives do we feel like slaves, heavy and chained? What must we let go of in order to break free? How do we define our freedom today? What beliefs are we holding onto which are holding us back?
May we take the opportunity to experience our journey, individually and collectively. May we take note of what makes us feel chained, and how we can release those chains. May we channel our inner Moses and have the courage to ask for what we want. May we channel our inner Miriam and find the strength to celebrate the small joys along the way. May we take the time to reflect on how we feel the most free, and make efforts to both let go, and go after, what we need to get there.