‘Freedom From’ and ‘Freedom To’
History is a powerful teacher. As the saying goes, if we don’t learn from history, we are bound to repeat it. Maybe that is why at the core of every Jewish holiday lies a major historic event. In those events are lessons of personal and global significance. But to say that the Jewish holidays are because of those events alone is to exclude one of the most powerful opportunities for personal growth available to us. Whether it was the giving of the Torah and ten commandments, the creation of the Jewish nation, the exodus from slavery and bondage in Egypt, the great escape to freedom, the Jewish settling of the land of Israel, or the near escape of annihilation in Persia in the times of Achashverosh, the historic happenings didn’t create the holiday. The holiday created the event.
What do I mean by that?
When God created the world, He infused certain time periods with specific energetic potential. The nature of that time period is literally woven into the fabric of time. So as each holiday comes around, that energetic potential shows up with it. During these holy days, we have the opportunity to lock into – or even simply dip a toe into – that pool of energetic potential to help us achieve our personal goals. And the historic stories or events we commemorate are designed to be beacons for what the spiritual power is for that time period.
For the upcoming holiday of Passover, or Pesach, the dominant theme is freedom. Certainly it is worth celebrating being free rather than being a slave. However, while freedom is a desirable state of being, it is also psychologically tricky on the heels of bondage. The Jews struggled mightily with their new ‘freedom’, often complaining in the desert when the future looked uncertain that they were better off as slaves than free people. Similarly, in the Holocaust, after the camps were liberated, many Jewish prisoners walked back into the camps and refused to leave. How can that be? How can we not treasure freedom over slavery no matter the cost?
As we enter the spiritual time period of freedom, it is important to understand that it is not enough to have ‘Freedom from’…. We also must have “Freedom to’. If we free ourselves from the shackles that bind us, what awaits us on the other side? What do we want to be free to have or to do or to be? Yes, the Jews in the desert and the victims of the Holocaust were freed from horrific circumstances. But neither group knew where they were going next. The future was as vacuous and empty as a black hole, filled with nothingness except the painful memories of the past. And that made it nearly impossible to let go of the slave mentality.
This Passover, as the energy of freedom descends within reach, ask yourself what you would most like freedom from. But then you must also ask yourself, if I am freed from that enslavement, what will I be able to do that I cannot do now? Where do I want to go with all that freedom? In other words, what do you most want that you could have if you release yourself from what is holding you back? Once you have your answer, lean into prayer, meditation or mindfulness to access the spiritual energy of freedom inherent in Pesach to make it real.
Wishing everyone a chag sameach and a quantum leap in your journey to greater freedom.