Thoughts Before the Seder – Wisdom and Conscious Living – Rabbi Mordecai Finley

April 19, 2019

I know a Hebrew School student is on the way to their Bar or Bat Mitzvah in a few years when they confidentially tell me that they might not believe in the all the stories of the Bible, especially the ones around Passover. I see they are ready for real questions, so I ask them: what does the Bible teach that you know to be true? As I think about Passover, and life in general, I think of a few things that our tradition teaches that I know to be true:


  1.         That you have soul. One aspect of the soul is the place within where life’s meanings are worked out. As we try to fill our lives with love, justice, truth and beauty, some deep sense of the Good and the Holy, we are yearning that life can be made fulfilling and meaningful.
  2.         The path to a meaningful life is this:  do your duty, find bliss when possible, be resilient when you can’t find bliss, and know that everything makes a difference.
  3.         Among our many duties in the spiritual realm, one of the most important is to cultivate hearts that can experience reverence – reverence for the souls of others, reverence for the soul that abides within, and for the religiously inclined, reverence in the presence of the experience of the Soul of the Universe.
  4.         The Bible teaches us that we each have patterns of destructiveness in the Ego Self, patterns that can drive out the capacity for love, the understanding of justice, insight into truth, the experience of beauty, the knowledge of the good. It is our duty to become free from the chains of that exist in the Ego Self and instead root our lives in the Knowledge of the Soul.
  5.         Know that the soul, where meaning and purpose are generated, has many chambers, and in one of those chambers, the natural language there is poetry and music, myth and metaphor. The rational mind can help us know which is which, but the rational mind cannot nourish and guide us in the same way that the soul can.
  6.         The Passover Seder is a soul journey – myth and music, metaphors and poems, stories of ancient times, human suffering and redemption.
  7.         And the Passover Seder has questions, some serious, some not, and some not even spoken. And some you cannot answer without your whole being.
  8.         The Bible teaches that the human spirit is the light of God, seeking out all our inner chambers.
  9.         The Bible asks us to tell this story, perhaps as a way that the light of God can shine from the hidden chambers into the holy stories that we well.
  10. We are asked is to find the hidden question, the one can only be spoken with one’s whole being, the question that contains truth that will set us free.
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