Passover is one of the most important holidays of the year. The holiday is a celebration of the Hebrew people's freedom from slavery and their exodus from Egypt. Directly following the escape from Egypt, the Jews were given the Ten Commandments, the Torah, and were eventually led into the land of Israel. Without these sacred texts and lands the Jewish people and religion could not and would not have survived. Yet the story and present day observance of the Exodus are equally important when looked at through Jewish Mysticism.
The holiday of Passover begins with the Seder at sundown on the 14th day of Nissan. The purpose of the Seder is to not only teach of the story of the Jew's exodus from Egypt, but to relive the experience so that one may feel as if he personally was redeemed. When one retells the story of Passover and eats the matzah and the bitter herbs it is a form of repentance for ones sins. Like the Jews in Egypt, many of us today are in a lower state of holiness or communication with G-d. The idea of repentance on Passover is symbolic of saying like the Jewish people in Egypt, "I am also freed and thus worthy of the Torah and Ten Commandments". One has to repent to show that he would have been worthy enough to have received these sacred objects. The word repentance in Hebrew means to return or response. Repentance for sins is one of the most important ideas in Judaism. The idea is that one can make bad decisions and choose the wrong path in life, but through repentance, however, one recognizes that he has made mistakes and asks G-d for forgiveness and for him to show the right path. Without this any action could be seen as the right action. By repenting one needs to look back into his past and review the choices he has made. He is showing God that he wants to continue on his divine path and not the one he himself has created by making bad decisions. Thus when one eats the bitter herbs on Passover he is signifying that he feels the pain and suffering which the Jewish slaves endured in Egypt, and like them are worthy of redemption. It is saying that you wish to be counted as one of His chosen people and look for the help of G-d to return you to his divine path of life.
The most well known rituals of Passover is that one cannot eat leavened bread. Many people believe that it is because when the Jews rushed to leave Egypt they did not have time to let the bread fully rise. However, the bread was not allowed to rise because G-d revealed himself and the bread was affected so it would not rise. G-d did not want the bread to rise and in His revealing himself he caused this to happen. The difference between bread and the unleavened matzah is the yeast. When the bread is baked the yeast fills with air and causes the bread to rise. Therefore the only difference between the bread and matzah is air. The air is symbolic of one's ego. When the bread is rising it is the ego being filled with false air. When the Jews were redeemed form Egypt they were in such a low state of holiness that they needed to be almost rebuilt by G-d. This is why it took forty years for the Jews to reach Israel. The matzah is showing how they needed to sacrifice and get rid of their egos and unholy way of life. This is also why there is a commandment on Passover which says that one must eat a piece of matzah. It is not enough that one has made his home kosher for Passover and all forbidden foods. One must actually eat a piece of matzah in order to fulfill the commandment. One cannot simply say that he is worthy of redemption and believes in the commandments. He has to actually live and follow the rules. It is not only how much you believe, it is also how much you do.
Now this ability to make our own choices is the difference between animals and humans. There are four types of things on this earth. Rocks which need nothing to survive. Next there are plants that need water and oxygen to live. Animals are next as they need both the water and oxygen...
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