Celebrating the Spiritual Levels of Torah
Special Torah reading for Passover, the week of April 13 - 19: Chol HaMo'ed Pesach
(Exodus 33:12 - 34:26)
In ancient days, when we offered a thanksgiving offering, a freewill offering, or a guilt offering, the sacrifice alone did not bring us to true gratitude or forgiveness. The ritual needed to be performed with an open heart, mind, and soul.
The same is true of our Passover practices. No matter how carefully we tell the story of an ancient deliverance, no matter how ritually correct our preparation and eating of the leaven-free foods, the outward ritual alone will not suffice. The external observance is meant to awaken a living experience that moves beyond simply repeating what we have done before and opens through ritual to a future that is yet to be.
When ritual comes alive, so do we. Ritual is meant to support the transcendence of what we have come to know as "normal," and reawaken us to possibilities as yet unseen. Through such ritual acts, we are invited to Realize the Presence of the One. That Realization opens the gates to a transcendence that transforms us.
So it was that Moses sought the Presence of Eternal Being: "He said, 'Oh, let me behold Your Presence!' And God answered, 'I will make all My Goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim before you the Name of Eternal Being, and the Grace that I grant and the Compassion that I show.'" (33:18 - 19)
And when Moses was standing, protected from the Full Face of Eternal Being and holding the second set of tablets, he heard the awesome Name:
The Eternal One passed before him and proclaimed: "The Eternal One! The Eternal One! A God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness, extending kindness to the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; yet not inhibiting the transmission of the iniquity of one generation to the next, and to the generation after that, to the third and fourth generation."
(34:6 - 7)
The Realization awakening for Moses is always available. Through ritual, through study, through meditation, we are invited to meet the Voice of Compassion and Graciousness. We are invited to meet the Voice of Forgiveness. And we are invited to meet the Voice proclaiming our freedom: the reality that our acts have consequences. Loving acts open us to a universe of Love; spiteful and hateful acts have negative effects on us, on our children, and on our world.
During this week of Passover, when we are asked to release the chametz, the "puffed-up" qualities of both food and self, we are invited to remember the deeper nature of our freedom. Universal Compassion and Forgiveness are always available -- we meet them when we remember our profound connection to All Being.
This is our task during the week of Passover: To remember and to bear witness to that which is truly important in ourselves, in our lives, and in our world.
I release old resentments and allow my heart to open.
I celebrate my freedom by choosing Compassionate thoughts and actions.
I commit myself to the next steps on my spiritual journey.
As I embrace myself with greater compassion, I realize that I have been. . .
When I imagine acting with greater freedom in my world, I see myself. . .
When I listen to the deeper Call awakening within me, I begin to hear. . .
“Torah is the book with no end, supporting our understanding of what it means to be a vehicle for the Spirit of Creation.”
Photo: Mark Reden