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Your 15-Step Program Toward Inner Liberation

Let your Seder this Year be Transformative

    Rabbi YY Jacobson

  • March 29, 2015
  • |
  • 9 Nisan 5775
  • Comment

Class Summary:

Your 15-Step Program Toward Inner Liberation - Let your Seder this year be transformative

Dedicated by David and Eda Schottenstein In the loving memory of a young Jerusalem soul Alta Shula- Daughter of Rabbi Yossi and Hindel Swerdlov And in honor of their daughter Yetta Alta Shula, "Aliyah" Schottenstein

The Jewish father calls his son a couple of days before Passover and says, "David, I hate to ruin your day, but I must tell you that your mother and I are divorcing - forty-five years of misery is enough."

"What are you talking about?" David screams.

"We can't stand the sight of each other any longer, We're sick of each other, and I'm sick of talking about this, so you call your sister Shirley and let her know."

Frantic, the son calls Shirley, who explodes on the phone."No way are my loving parents getting divorced!" she shouts.

She calls Dad immediately and screams - - "Dad, you are not getting divorced! Don't do anything until we get there. I'm calling David back and we'll be there tomorrow. Do you hear me?" and she hangs up.

The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife. "Great," he says, "they're coming home for Passover and paying their own way."

An Opportunity

The Passover Seder is an opportunity that provides us with the energy to access freedom in our personal and collective lives. It consists of an intense fifteen-step program, a blueprint toward psychological, emotional and spiritual liberation. Below is a brief description of the meditation, consciousness and inner work reflected during each of the fifteen steps.

Kadesh -- reciting Kiddush, designating the time as sacred:

Designate a space in your psyche that is sacred, pure, innocent, curious and child-like. Without this step, there is too much static in your life to allow for real listening, introspection and growth.

Urchatz -- washing the hands:

Clean your hands from their involvement in un-cleanliness. Cleanse your life from active lying, cheating, betraying, immoral relationships, destructive addictions, etc. No liberation is possible without this step.

Karpas -- eating a vegetable dipped in saltwater:

The vegetable growing low from the ground, on which we make a blessing "He created fruit from the ground," symbolizes the body, created from earth (Adamah). The prerequisite for spiritual liberation is to recognize that your body and all of its dispositions are a means to an end; they need to be submerged in the waters of inspiration and Torah. Do not allow your cravings and appetites to define you; you must define them. Do not allow them to take you hostage, but see them as a means for your journey. They are here to be defined and explained by you.

Yachatz -- breaking the middle matzah:

Humility and vulnerability are the messages of this fourth step. You must have people in your life with whom you are completely open, honest and vulnerable. The fake sense of "I am whole," is the greatest obstacle to genuine liberation.

Magid -- reciting the Haggadah:

Tell the story; teach the story. Study, learn, and learn some more. It expands your horizons, challenges your ego, and brings you to a deeper place inside of yourself. Do not let a day pass without some serious learning time.

Rochtzah -- washing the hands:

Wash your hands again. The arrogance that may come post-learning is very dangerous. This is the "religious" and "scholarly" pompousness, of "I know it all," and I am "holier than thou." Remain humble, real and authentic.


Motzei -- reciting the blessing HaMotzi, “He extracted bread from the earth”:

Extract. Now you are in the position of extracting the opportunities, the "sparks," in everything you come in contact with or anything you own. Judaism does not advocate shunning the world or asceticism, but to utilize all of our gifts and extract the productive and meaningful possibilities inherent in them.


Matzah -- reciting the blessing on the matzah and eating it:

The Talmud describes Matzah as "bread of poverty." Extract the possibilities in your life, but maintain perspective and balance. Do not live like a narcissistic glutton, who feels that heshe must maintain the most luxurious lifestyle. Even if you were blessed with wealth, cherish simplicity, refinement and modesty. If you are not wealthy, do not feel pressured to mimic your neighbors or friends. Do things according to your capacity. Let your dignity shine from within. People will love you much more this way. Don’t try to impress people; become comfortable with yourself internally, and the people around you will feel comfortable.


Maror -- eating the bitter herbs:

Empathy. Now you can begin to discover the greatest gift of life: To be there for another human being. To be able to look somebody in the eyes and say, "I am here for you," and really mean it and live it.


Korach -- eating a sandwich of matzah and maror (in ancient times together with the Passover lamb):

Life is a roller-coaster of Pesach, Matzah and Maror (the Passover lamb, the unleavened bread and the biter herbs) -- rich moments, bland moments and bitter moments. Liberation comes when we discover the art of sandwiching all the components of our life into a single mosaic. Life is a single journey that encompasses all three dimensions. Like the professional surfer, navigate the waves.


Shulchan Orach – setting the table, eating the festive meal:

Develop a good feeling for hospitality of guests and helping other people. Don't analyze the guests when they leave your home. Remember: Your children will not wish to invite guests to their homes if they know how much you really loath having guests.

Tzafun -- eating the hidden afikoman:

At this point in the Seder, we eat and enjoy the hidden Afikoman. At this point in your life, there is "hidden stuff" that may yet emerge. Like the layers of an onion, when you peel one layer, a new one emerges. Do not get frightened or depressed; on the contrary, now that you have achieved so much, new hidden skeletons might come out, since you are now capable of dealing with them. Enjoy the challenge. Also, this reminds you that you still need G-d.


Beirach -- reciting grace:

Now you can begin to bless G-d for every moment, encounter and experience in your life.


Halel -- reciting psalms of praise:

Now, you begin to express praise for every moment. Nothing is taken for granted. Every breath you take and every move you make is an opportunity for praise and thanksgiving.


Nitrtzah – Our service is pleasing to G-d:

But really, does anybody care? In the big picture, are we not smaller than specks of dust? Why the bother?

The answer: Nirtzah. G-d's desire in creating the world was that we build a personal, intimate relationship with Him and that we transform our animal soul and our world into a Divine abode. Sure, you can ask many questions, but at the end of day, this is what your Creator desires. Nirtzah! Embrace it and love it.

Next Year in Jerusalem!

*) This article is based on the Hagadah of the Chida and on various writings of Mussar and Chasidism. My thanks to my brother Rabbi Simon Jacobson for his "15 steps."

Please leave your comment below!

    Pesach Essay

    Rabbi YY Jacobson
    • March 29, 2015
    • |
    • 9 Nisan 5775
    • |
    • Comment

    Dedicated by David and Eda Schottenstein In the loving memory of a young Jerusalem soul Alta Shula- Daughter of Rabbi Yossi and Hindel Swerdlov And in honor of their daughter Yetta Alta Shula, "Aliyah" Schottenstein

    Class Summary:

    Your 15-Step Program Toward Inner Liberation - Let your Seder this year be transformative

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