Season of Liberation
The Jewish holiday of Passover (Pesach) is approaching. As part of my personal journey of healing, studies, and return to the Judaic path, I have explored the meaning, purpose, and practices of this important holiday through a process of spiritual exegesis. This process consisted of a radical interpretation of the Passover rituals and prayers into a language and process that resonated with my own heart while also attempting to honor the heart of Judaism itself. Through this technique I endeavored to heal old wounds and purge myself of the obstacles between the Divine and myself in relation to this important Judaic ritual of liberation.
There are three basic levels of text interpretation in the Jewish tradition: Literal-Biblical, Theoretical-Talmudic, and Mystical-Kabbalistic (Fishbane, 1998; Kenton, 1980). Literal-Biblical text interpretation includes the historical, biblical and narrative levels of the material. Theoretical-Talmudic text interpretation consists of the extrapolation of the philosophical, ethical, moral and religious doctrines, laws and teachings that are woven into the fabric of the written material. Mystical-Kabbalistic text interpretation seeks to unearth the hidden and concealed metaphysical teachings buried in the text.
On the literal level of interpretation, Passover is a ritualistic retelling of the story of a historical biblical event, the Israelites’ liberation from bondage in Egypt. On the theoretical level, the story and rituals of Passover have many philosophical, ethical, moral and religious lessons to teach us about human behavior and the human endeavor to live according to the teachings of the religion of Judaism. Traditionally, the rituals of Passover, including the Passover Seder, tend to focus on these two levels of interpretation and understanding.
In the Jewish mystical tradition, Passover can also be seen as a powerful vehicle for personal and communal psycho-spiritual development. From the Mystical-Kabbalistic perspective, the Passover story of a people being freed from the bondage of slavery is transformed into a road map for how an individual can be freed from the bondage of limited consciousness (Kenton, 1980); the land of Egypt becomes the realm of narrowness of body and mind, and Moses becomes the Higher Self being called upon by the Divine to free all the different voices of the psyche (the children of Israel, the Awakening Self) from the bondage of the ego (Pharaoh).
This mystical level of interpretation became my pathway through the metaphysical gates of these ancient and sacred rites of inner and outer freedom, leading me to the discovery a personally transformative psycho-spiritual Passover experience. The final product of this endeavor was the creation of a Mystical Passover handbook or Haggadah (Kaplan, 2003) which I now use ever year at this time.
Fishbane, M. (1998). The Exegetical Imagination: On Jewish Thought and Theology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Kaplan, M. A. (2003). A Mystical Passover: A Transformational Passover Haggadah. Pacific Grove, CA: Original Gravity.
Kenton, W. (1980). Kabbalah and Exodus. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, Inc.
*Image: Mystical Sedar Plate revealing the inner dimensions of the physical symbols.
*Originally published on KabbalahBlog hosted by Enlightenment.com