By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman, Dean, Cheder Chabad of Monsey
Question: So it's Pesach again. Another Seder night where we meet up with distant relatives we almost forgot about, to tell a story that we aren't allowed to forget about. Is it really necessary to still commemorate our ancestors' freedom from slavery in Egypt - more than 3,300 years ago ? Can't we move on to more pressing and contemporary issues?
Answer:cMy friend, you are reading the wrong Haggada. The Seder is not just a memorial to events of the distant past - it is a dynamic process of freedom from the challenges of the present.
We are slaves. Slaves to our own inhibitions, fears, habits, cynicism and prejudices. These self-appointed pharaohs are layers of ego that prevent us from expressing our true inner self, from reaching our spiritual potential. Our souls are incarcerated in selfishness, laziness and indifference.
Pesach means "Passover." It is the season of liberation, when we pass over all these obstacles to inner freedom. On Pesach, we give our souls a chance to be expressed.
Reread the Haggada. Every time it says "Egypt" read "limitations." Replace the word "Pharaoh" with "Ego." And read it in the present tense:
"We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt" = "We are slaves to our egos, stuck in our limitations."
How do we free ourselves? By eating Matzo. After eating Matzo, the Israelites were able to run out of Egypt and follow G-d into the desert. Because Matzo represents the suspension of ego. Unlike bread, which has body and taste, Matza is flat and tasteless - the bread of surrender.
Usually, we are scared to suspend our egos, because we think that we will lose ourselves. On Pesach we eat the Matzo, we suspend our egos and find ourselves - our true selves.
This night is different from all other nights, because on this night we let ourselves go, we liberate our souls to follow G-d unashamed. We say, "I may not understand what this means, but I have a Jewish soul, and somehow that is the deepest layer of my identity."
That soul is the innocent child within us, waiting to be free. Pesach that soul sings out : Ma Nishtana Halayla Hazeh...(Why is this night different…). May the experience of the Seder night continue to inspire us.
(Excerpts from Chabad.org - by Rabbi Aron Moss )
Best wishes for Kosher, Joyous and Meaningful Pesach to all!