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OrHaLev-CenterforJewishSpiritualityandMeditation

HaggadahSupplement
Pesach2013/5773

1. Removing our Inner Chametz (leavening) Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 17a Rav Hamnuna and Rabbi Alexandri, after finishing their prayers, would say thus: Master of the World it is known before you that it is our will to do Your will. And what prevents us? The leavening which is in the dough and the oppression of foreign domination. May it be your will to save us from their hand and allow us to once again do your will and laws with a perfect heart. Rashi ad. loc. The leavening which is in the dough The evil inclination in our hearts, that which leavens us (causes us to rise and expand). ,, ' .

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This text presents two factors as preventing us from acting correctly, external impediments (oppression) and internal impediments (leavening). The leavening in the dough is understood by commentators as the evil urge or evil inclination. ~Why do you think the evil inclination is called leavening? (Can you think of a connection between the process of rising and expansion in bread-making and a parallel internal human process?) ~What is this evil inclination in your opinion? ~How does the puffed up self prevent us from doing what is best? ~How does mindfulness, paying attention directly, help us free ourselves from that puffed up self? R. Moshe Chaim Luzzato (18th cent. scholar), The Way of God 4:8:1 The matter of hametz (leavening) and matzah is. that in the Exodus from Egypt Israel was distinguished and their bodies were summoned to be purified and be available for Torah and spiritual practice. Concerning this they were commanded to cease from hametz and to eat matzah. That is, for the bread which is prepared as food for people is truly equivalent to the desired states for a human. Leavening, which is a natural thing in bread so that it will be easy to digest and have a good taste, is also drawn down according to the fitting law of man, for he too [the person] requires the evil inclination and the corporeal tendencies. However, for a special and defined time, Israel was required to desist from leavening and to sustain themselves on matzah, to reduce their selves and the power of their evil inclination and corporeal tendencies, and increase their closeness to God. ,',,',','," .,... . . , ,, ", . , ," .

~What can be beneficial about pride, desire, pleasure, physicality etc. (the positive and necessary aspects of leavening or the evil urge)? What are the negative aspects? ~How is abstaining from leavening beneficial according to this text? ~How does one bring the leavening back into ones life in a positive way? If we can eat leavening again after Passover, it cant be all bad. What is the time out from leavening and the evil urge over Passover supposed to accomplish? ~How does mindfulness provide us with such a time out? How does it help us both enjoy and wisely restrain our desire, pleasure and physicality? Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels

2. Peh Sach (The Mouth Speaks): Freedom through Speech

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And even if we were all sages, all wise, all learned in Torah, it would still be a Mitzvah for us to tell about the Exodus from Egypt and the more one extends the story of the Exodus from Egypt the more praiseworthy. (Haggadah) We are obligated to see ourselves as if we left Egypt. The mitzvah of telling the Exodus from Egypt is telling the story of our own freedom. To speak about human freedom is to make it real. To speak about human freedom is also to honor the divine because we are celebrating the precious gift of freedom. There are inner voices that would silence us speaking about our true freedom but the more we speak, the less ground they have to stand on. While we are busy with our attention on freedom, those voices that would undermine us dont have an audience (or they dont have a full audience even if we still notice them in the background.) It is also helpful to be able to notice these inner voices that work against our freedom. The more we can notice them with loving awareness, the less unconscious hold they have on us. Questions for discussion: ~When have you noticed that speech has been connected to your freedom? ~Or conversely when has your lack of speech been linked to an experience of stuckness? ~What are some of the voices that work against your freedom? (In sharing them we can often see that even though they feel so personal, we all have them!) ~ Speak about your freedom: Share an experience you have had of leaving Egypt, of leaving the straits of patterned and limiting thoughts or habits and moving towards an expanse of new possibility?

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I must speak about it all, the heights of the heights, what is above where I am holding, beyond my grasp and feeling, because I am called to this by the force of my inner being... (Rav Kook, Shemonah Kvatzim 6:106) As the conduit between the spiritual and material worlds we humans can uplift all of life with our speech, as well as getting connected to ourselves and each other. Exercise: Take a few moments to connect to your breath. Close your eyes. Keep bringing your attention gently back to you breath. Take several minutes. Think about freedom and the reality of you leaving Egypt. Feel where freedom is in your body? Where is constriction in your body? What is freedom for you? Be with the inner experience of your freedom for a few minutes, Breathe in freedom. Notice where if anywhere you feel restriction. When you come out of the exercise share your experience of your freedom at the table. What are the contours of freedom for you? The more one shares, the more praiseworthy one is! Make space for all to share!
Dr Malka Melanie Landau

3. The Four Children: Spiritual Struggles and Skillful Means ' ' . , , , . , . Texts from the Netivot Shalom The Slonimer Rebbe explains that we introduce the section on the 4 children with four different articulations of blessing and gratitude to the Divine, corresponding to the four children, meaning the Torah has dimensions of spiritual support for each one according to his state, that from any given spiritual state one can grow and strengthen. He is talking not about young people, but rather understanding ben/child,to mean a child before the Divine, each of us. This description implies relationship, and so long as there is relationship there is space for healing, change, and growth. We all come from a Divine Source and in the course of our lives reckon with the various struggles that accompany our work here. So, a person in her spiritual life, whether she is in the relationship posture of wise child or in the spiritual state of wicked child, engaging the challenge of the simple child or seeking as the child who doesnt know how to ask, she is described as child and, as such, there is guidance for her. The Wise Child . ... , , , . , ... ... , [see attached for full text translations] The Netivot Shalom points out that spiritual success and satisfaction is impeded by craving, even on a full stomach insisting on having more. An otherwise good and moral person misses out on the subtler spiritual pleasures, on having what she already has, when her mind is focused on getting more. Likewise, that sense of scarcity narrowing your focus to your own needs keeps you from the fullness of the mitzvah, eating btzavta/in true communion with the community. For reflection: Do you ever notice that youre thinking about how to get more while youre in the middle of receiving? chewing and reaching for more? suggestion: put down your fork, savor the sensation. Notice when you act from the fear of scarcity in your life, acknowledge it and soften it by speaking gently to the inner child and remembering to pay attention to the abundance that is also present. The Wicked Child ' ... .' ... , , '' , .... ' ... , ... The wicked childs question, What is this to you emanates from a place of feeling disconnected, to you (and not me). It isnt a real question, but a retort, reflecting cynicism, the cynicism that comes as a defense mechanism in the face of the despair and isolation, of feeling disconnected and left out. The sense of relative safety that comes with cynicism can easily harden into habit, leaving us coarse to the world and even closed to hope and the possibility of change. The act of questioning, real questioning, opens us to that which we dont know, challenges the rigidity which has crusted over our soulful essence . To pierce the crusted rigidity, try turning the retort into a real question (say it in a different tone!), using curiosity to open the hatch to the hidden potentials.

The soul is always alight, and lightness and playfulness, even when artificial at first, can reawaken long-lost joy and child-like sense of possibility. A good time to practice question/curious mode and play the Question Game, where there is only one rule: engage in conversation only with questions? The Simple Child '' '' , ,' . . , ' . . And the tam/simple child asks, what is this? In this understanding, this person suffers from apathy. (In Hebrew) simple has the same letters as dead, because this person lacks vitality, [is cut off by not caring] so you say to him that with a mighty hand God took us out of Egypt, for the advice to him is with mighty effort to overcome apathy. For him redemption is to awaken the soulful forces inside him. Where do you find yourself apathetic and not caring? When do you manage to get out of it? The Netivot Shalom suggests that effort and determination counter apathy. Game: 1,2,3 Shout about something you care about! Divide your group into Israelites and Egyptians and have a good argument. The Child who doesnt know how to ask . , , . , , .... ... . , And the one who doesnt know how to ask, open him. He is closed to the point that even asking a question is beyond him. And the advice the Torah gives to him is and you shall tell your son the story... and encourage him to serve with simple faith...as it says, the desert caused their power of speech to desert them, and likewise his salvation depends on growing in faith even from a closed heart. Often change doesnt come right away, so we must set out in our practice with determination that in time it will pay off. We havent yet found our voice or rhythm, yet we set out knowing we wont get there if we dont start along the way. Telling stories can give us insight and inspiration to start along the path, trusting that in time the story will become our story. Game: speak to each other in gibberish, start in monotone and experiment with communicating with limited but increasing means, (tone, facial expression, gesture)

Full Text Translations: The Wise Child The question of one in the state of the wise child is, what are these laws and statutes to you?...and the answer is that you dont add (eat) after the Pesach sacrifice (or today), the afikomen. This is elucidated by the commentary of the Divrei Moshe, who points out that the verse says these laws and statutes enjoined upon you and the language of mitzvah (enjoined) is from the root for join, meaning dvekut (cleaving) and connecting to the Divine. The wise child sees himself performing the laws and statutes, [i.e. living as he should] and yet not attaining any dvekut. The response is, just as in the laws of Pesach that one doesnt eat after the Pesach/Afikomen, which is eaten on a sated stomach, thereafter he should engage no corporeal pleasure...the taste of the mitzvah should linger in his mouth and not be disturbed by corporeal pleasure. The Wicked Child The wicked child asks, what is this service for you. As our teacher, the rebbe from Kubrin wrote, though he too is a servant of God, because of his repeated failures time and again, he has come to despair, so he asks for you, and not me. The response is to tell him that had he been there, he wouldnt have been redeemed, meaning that we too were mired in the depths, and only because we strove and didnt despair did we make it to where we are...and because he has obscured the fundamental truth that his soul is always connected to the Divine and the spark is still alive, we say sharpen his teeth because he has violated the essence.

The Simple Child And the tam/simple child asks, what is this? In this understanding, this person suffers the malady of apathy in all matters of holiness/spiritual significance. (In Hebrew) simple has the same letters as dead, because he lacks all spiritual vitality, so you say to him that with a mighty hand God took us out of Egypt, for the advice to him is with might effort to overcome apathy. For him redemption is to awaken the soulful forces inside him. The Child who doesnt know how to ask And the one who doesnt know how to ask, open him. He is the one whose whole essence is closed, his heart is closed, and his mind is closed, to the point that even asking a question is beyond him. And the advice the Torah gives to him is, on this holy day, and you shall tell your son the story... and encourage him to serve with simple faith...as it says, the desert caused their power of speech to desert them, and explain only through simple faith did we merit redemption, and likewise his salvation depends on growing in faith even from a closed heart, for then the gates of light will open before him. Daniel Yoel Cohen