By: Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui
Once, there was a beggar who would drag himself from apartment building to apartment building, climbing the stairs and knocking on all the doors, for just a few pennies. Oh, how he wished there were elevators in those buildings so that life could be a little easier for him. One day, a friend sees him and asks, “What would you do if you won the million dollar lottery?” He answered in the blink of an eye, “I would install elevators in all those buildings, so life could be a little easier for me when I go begging.”
You see, this beggar had a poor man’s mentality, so even when he would win the money, and he was a millionaire, he could only think in terms of his begging.
Passover is described as the season of our freedom. “In every generation and every day a person must see himself liberated from Egypt”. In Hebrew, the word for Egypt can be understood as constraints and limitations. During this season, specifically by eating the special hand baked shmurah matzah, and drawing lessons from the story of the exodus, we are granted the special opportunity to liberate ourselves from the many internal limitations and constraints imposed by the inner Pharaoh.
Inside each one of us there is a positive G-dly force and an evil taskmaster interested in controlling and directing us in self-destructive ways. Many times, he succeeds to subdue the good. It is suppressed and not allowed to flourish and express itself.
Comes the Haggada – the Passover story, and tells us that there are three most important elements that must be considered in the process of liberation: Pesach, Matzah and Marror.
Pesach means, to Passover. To uplift oneself above the circumstances they find themselves in. We don’t always have to confront our challenges head-on. Many times, lifting ourselves above the situation helps us see our problems from an overall, all-encompassing perspective.
Matzah represent humility, since the matzah is flat and not blown up, like the ego of bread. As big as a person’s ego may be, in the end, it is his own bubble, separate from anyone else. Humility allows a person to connect to others, and it is only with the help of others that a person is able to truly expand and move forward in life.
Marror is the bitter herbs. This represents the recognition that difficulties are always part of the mix as an ingredient to grow, and are part of the freedom process. The only way a person can bring the best out of themselves is through hardships and challenges. Difficulties is G-d’s way of telling a person, “I put you exactly where you are, because I know it is only through this experience and journey that you will reach a better destination in life.”
Passover, when practiced in the correct manner by being careful not to come in contact with any leavened food, grants us this power of freedom for the rest of the year. A great mystic, the Arizal, teaches that anyone who is careful not to have any leavened products around them for Passover is guaranteed not to sin inadvertently for the entire coming year.
To read more articles from Rabbi Ezagui visit him at koshercaffeine.blogspot.com