This week, the posts have been exploring metaphor and allegory for deeper understanding, the necessity to hold one’s personal integrity when coming of age, what it means to take up one’s cross, and the god-name in the book of Genesis.
Now to Exodus 3: 1-12 to introduce the Passover story:
When Moses stopped and turned to get a better look at the burning bush after arriving at the mountain of אֱלהִים (Elohim, the house of El), the text indicates יְהוָֹה (Yhvh) gave a talking to Moses, instructing him that the time and space was sacred. He was to take off his walking shoes as it was a place of rest, a sacred space. In modern jargon, he was told to stop and mindfully meditate as Being settled into being. Moses became aware of his solemn task to set his people free from the generational bonds of Egypt. Only in stopping the daily fussing about and settling down to profoundly be, was Moses able to see with his eyes, and hear with his ears of reflection. (יְהוָֹה Yhvh is a variation of the primary root word havah which means to become).
Moses asked by what name he should say sent him to tell the enslaved who called them out of Egypt. He said הָיָה, pronounced hayah, stated twice emphatically meaning to fall out, come to pass, become, be. It is a verb, and uniquely attached to the Being Moses heard coming from the burning thorn bush. The divine Being is neither static, nor stagnate. The house of El: El is masculine singular. The ending is plural: pregnant with positive possibilities and probabilities.
On the first two nights of Passover, a collection of hymns, tales, psalms, and so on are read during the seder meal. This gives a sense of collective being, of being in relationship.
Michael Lerner wrote: “Our own liberation and our own mental health require the liberation of all people, and the end of oppression. And perhaps it is this recognition that makes Passover such a universal holiday, and the seder such a wonderful time to invite non-Jews and nonpracticing Jews to your home to experience the aliveness of Judaism’s liberatory message.” Jewish Renewal: A path to healing and transformation, (Harper Perennial, New York: 1995) 360.
It sounds very political. This week’s post Walk the Talk notes how Jesus takes a different approach.
Yet, I may be hasty. On the next page, Lerner discusses Mitzrayim (מִצְרַיִם), the Hebrew word for Egypt. It comes from the Hebrew word tzar, primarily meaning a strait, or a narrow tight place. As with yesterday’s post Perception Filters, Lerner continues, “So some Hasidim have taught the narrow places in which we find ourselves stuck, to some higher level of spiritual liberation in which we experience the freedom from previous psychological encumbrances that kept us from being in touch with our highest selves.”
New birth within ourselves requires sweeping away the mental and material weights that drag us down, the chometz leavened stuff clogging the arteries of our very being.
It’s time for some less heavy matzah! And therein we find an abundance of metaphor.