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15 Steps to Personal Freedom

Tuesday, 20 March, 2018 - 9:06 pm

The Pesach Seder can reach deep into the human psyche and help develop a sense of inner freedom within all who participate. 

Every detail is firmly grounded in the mystical teachings of Judaism. Each step has not just a body, but a soul as well, a simple meaning as well as a deep lesson towards higher consciousness.

The Seder’s success is awe-inspiring. No ritual has survived so long and so true to its original form. No lesson has affected humankind with such impact, propagating the values of human dignity, liberty and the search for higher meaning.

To this day, in every corner of the world, Jews come together to reconstruct that original Passover Seder, again and again, year after year. And every year, there is more to learn.

Step

How

Personally speaking…

Kadesh

Everyone stands and says the blessing on the cup of wine together.  We drink while leaning to the left.

 

‘Kadesh’ means to sanctify, but it can also be translated as ‘separate’ or ‘transcend’. The beginning of all journeys is separation. You’ve got to leave somewhere to go somewhere else.  To begin the journey to liberation one must make a move. Laziness and sluggishness are the antithesis of the exodus. A free person is an active and proactive one.  To live a free life and express your full humanity means never to be complacent and satisfied with your personal growth and your moral achievements.

Urchatz

Wash our hands (3 times on the right and 3 times on the left) before eating a wet vegetable. Don’t say a blessing after washing.  Strange!!  One of the reasons we do this is to prompt the kids to ask questions.

As we head into the journey of self- refinement, we clean our hands from destructive tendencies and dependences of the past. No liberation is possible without this step.

But self-awareness can also bring us face to face with blame, regret and resentment.  The danger here is becoming driven by obsessive guilt and remorse and we can exit dirtier than when we entered. Urchatz encourages us to do it cleanly.  Contemplate on how you are a soul being brought into existence at this very moment with a purpose.  Live right now and the future will take care of itself.

Karpas

Dip a vegetable into salt water, say the blessing “Baruch …Borei Pri Ha’adamoh”. This blessing is also for the maror that we will eat later.

As we dig into our life story we will learn that sometimes the ‘salty’ can be sweet.  Pain is the touchstone of spiritual growth.  Pain is awareness and awareness is half the cure.  The ‘saltiness’ of our past, allowed us to view life from a different angle and to rediscover our true self.  While some see their pain as G-d’s abandonment of them, others see it as a divine communication that lets us know that we are capable of more, prompting our very best efforts and the use of the full extent of our abilities.

Yachatz

The Middle Matzah is broken in two. The larger piece is broken into five and is hidden as the Afikomen. The smaller piece is left between the two whole pieces.

Humility and vulnerability is the message of this fourth step. The fake sense of ‘I am whole’ is the greatest obstacle to genuine liberation.  Humility is not lowliness. Humility is lack of self-absorption. We realise our qualities and abilities were given to us from Above. Humility is not self-deprecating, but rather it is a recognition of one’s own good qualities and realising how lucky we are to have them.

Maggid

Read from the Haggadah. Tell the whole story out loud of leaving Egypt.

Tell the story, teach the story. Study, learn, and learn some more. It expands your horizons, challenges your ego and brings you to a deeper place inside of yourself.  Each of us has our inner child, who is always curious and takes nothing for granted. We must safeguard that sensitivity within us and allow it to ask and express its pure and sincere perspective. Never say “I'm too old and set in my ways to learn something new.”

 

Rachtzah

 

Wash our hands again (3 times on the right and 3 times on the left). This time, we say the blessing “Baruch... al Netilat Yadaim” and we cannot speak until we have eaten the Matzah.

Learning new things and asking questions are fantastic, but action is paramount! Immediately after we learn the story, we follow with something concrete. We wash our hands and make a blessing, we do a Mitzvah. If you're bogged down by negativity, surround yourself with goodness and kindness. The first step out, is up.  The path to G-d is through doing good, not just by abstaining from bad.

Motzi

Grab all three Matzahs - the top one, the broken middle one and the bottom one - and pick them up a little. Say the blessing of ‘Hamotzi’

“Hamotzi” means to “He who brings forth”.  Extract the opportunities in everything you come in contact with or anything you own. Liberation is not only about overcoming what holds down, but also about being free to utilize all of our gifts and extract the productive and meaningful possibilities inherent in them.

Matzah

Recite the blessing "Baruch… Al Achilas Matzah." Eat as much Shmura Matzah as you can without speaking while leaning to the left.

Baking handmade Shmura Matzah requires physical labour. Matzah is defined as “the bread of faith.” It is the bread the Jews ate on the night they became a people. The effort of creating handmade matzah, is equally true about faith.  Our relationship with G-d must be alive and passionate!  Our faith cannot be mechanical.  It must be vibrant and active.   Faith takes constant work and exercise.

Maror

Eat ground horseradish root (wrap it in a leaf of romaine lettuce to put out the fire!) and eat it in one shot. It’s okay if you cry :-)

 

Bitterness is an integral and positive component of self-growth.  We need to understand our mistakes and feel pain for our mishaps.  This keeps us humble, balanced and honest and it motivates change.  True freedom contains a healthy measure of serious self-criticism.

But the moment bitterness becomes the dominant emotion in life, it spoils and corrodes all potential to grow.  Insure that your dissatisfaction comes with a certain passion that motivates positive change.

Korach

Make a sandwich with Matzah and Maror, dip it in Charoset and enjoy!

Life is a roller-coaster. Rich moments, bland moments and bitter moments. Liberation comes when we discover the art of sandwiching all the components of our life into one. Acknowledge the bitter moments and realise how they have made us a better and stronger person.  These bitter moments show us that we have the ability to go beyond what our rational mind limits us to, that we are able to rise above mediocrity and realise our enormous potential.

Shulchan Orech

Finally, you can enjoy your delicious meal!

 

Some people think that being an observant Jew means not enjoying life.  That's not true.  Judaism wants us to enjoy the world that G-d gave us.  G-d wants us to have pleasure so long as what we do is dignified and for the sake of refreshing ourselves so that we can serve G-d even better.  Man is not a ‘needy’ being but a ‘purposeful’ being.

Tzafun

Eat the Afikomen that was put away in Yachatz (step #4). Eat it while leaning to the left and make sure that this is the last thing that you eat at the Seder.

The word “Tzafun” means hidden.  We are surrounded by many blessings, but often do not see them since they are ‘blessings in disguise’. By noticing G-d’s favours in the repetitive rhythms of life and appreciating His wonderful gifts to us, nature turns miraculous.

Barech

We fill the third cup of wine, recite the Grace after Meals and after reciting the blessing over the wine we drink it reclining on our left side.

 

Be grateful.  Thank and thank and thank some more. Don’t take anything for granted.  A grateful person is a happy person because he realises that everything he has is a gift. Nothing is taken ‘for’ granted, but ‘as’ granted from G-d. When we are so focused on getting more, we lose the chance to focus on what we already have and gain happiness from it.  Appreciation is an art that needs to be developed.  If we truly appreciate all that we have, we'll appreciate life in its totality.

 

 

Hallel

 

We sing the Hallel, songs of praise to Hashem.

 

 

Be generous in compliments.  We tend to point out the negative in ourselves and in others but find it hard to sincerely compliment the abundant positive in all of us.

Hallel means to praise and that is exactly what we should be doing constantly. Find the good and magnify it.

When we praise, it benefits us, too.  When we praise
 G-d it makes us focus on His goodness and encourages us to follow in His ways. Praising G-d bring the awareness that it is the Almighty who bestowed all these pleasures upon us. This awareness greatly enhances the value of these pleasures.

Nirtzah

Sing “L’shana Habah B’Yerushalayim!” (Next Year in Jerusalem)

‘Nirtzah’ literally means ‘favourably accepted’ because we are confident that Hashem accepted our prayers and thanks during the Seder. We must always have complete faith that G-d is listening to our prayers!

Pray for something and believe with full faith that it will come true. Simple prayers are more powerful than you may think!

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