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THE 15 STEPS TO INNER EMANCIPATION

By: Y. Dror



The vibe that exists in the cosmos during the month of Nissan infuses us with the feeling of liberation and freedom. The feeling of freedom is not only a result of recognizing that one is not enslaved to a different person or authority, but rather, is a feeling that comes from within. Pesach is a time when one can liberate himself from inner slavery.

The feeling of expecting the Seder to run perfectly might actually sacrifice the certainty, happiness, and emotional intimacy of the fifteen step Seder. “Mitzrayim” comes from the word “mehtzar” meaning restriction. When one expects
things to be run in a certain manner, he is actually restricting himself and becoming enslaved by those restrictions. The fifteen steps of the Seder aren’t just a nice schedule for one to strictly follow. Rather, the fifteen steps provide us with an emotional program, a ladder of fifteen rungs to one’s inner and outer emancipation and liberty.

Kadesh– to sanctify or designate. This means that the first step is to designate time in your life, and space in your soul, so you may realize that you are full of potential, and are a source of endless possibility, ready to grow.

Urchatz – the gemara explains, "Because it is an unusual activity which prompts the children to ask questions.” As adults we may become enslaved to the idea that it's more sophisticated to "know it all." Urchatz teaches us that to be truly free we must approach life with child-like wonderment. "Who is the wise person?" asks the mishnah. "The one who learns from everyone."

Karpas– we say the blessing of “boreh peri ha’adama.” Adam comes from word “domeh,” similar. When saying the blessing of “ha’adama”you are actually making a decision: Am I just a piece of “adama” earth? Or I will be a “domeh leh’elyon” similar to Hashem Whom I represent, and dip in His water: the holy Torah. “Ein mayeem elah Torah.”

Yachatz – the Kotzker Rebbe once said, “There is nothing as straight as a slanted ladder, there is nothing as wholesome as a broken heart. The sense of needing to appear perfect is the enemy to growth, since you can never acknowledge any of your mistakes; you are just too perfect. When breaking the Matzah, you are admitting to yourself that you are not whole, but rather, broken and ready to be fixed and learn.”

Mageed – the very word "Pesach" is a contraction of the words “peh sach,” meaning "the mouth speaks." The fifth step of Mageed is one of the mainsources of growth for the night, whereby we tell over the story and learn new things. Wisdom broadens your horizons and when your horizons are broadened it stimulates thought. Having broadened horizons brings about inquisitiveness and curiosity that challenges you to exit the status quo and tune in to the present.

Rochtzah – we wash our hands as a preparatory step for the Matzah, which symbolizes humility. So, when one washes his hands again, following all that he had just learned and acquired by Mageed,this second washing is more significant to him, since now he has acknowledged what needs to be washed.

Motzi – means to extract or to take out. It is known that in this world there are “Neetzotzot Kedusha” sparks of holiness, (from Gd’s vital energy). The sparks are the divine energy in the opportunity of something that may consist of spiritual and physical components. At this point of the night you are able to bring out the spiritual opportunity in things through physical actions, since you acquired thelevel of being able to see this.

Matzah– the lesson of Matzah is to seize the moment. Delaying even one second can mean the difference between an opportunity gained or lost. Dignity has to come from within a person, not from other people validating you.Matzah is called the bread of the poor. Eating it represents an action done by a poor humble man. So, when you do something, do it for its true purpose. This is extremely crucial for a liberated life.

Maror– we eat bitter herbs to indicate that Hashem is present not only during periods of our freedom, but also during our bitter periods of exile as well. The concept of Maror is that you do not repress pain nor do you stress it too much. The balance Maror teaches us, is that in the middle of all the fun and joy (the Seder), you stop and designate one action (eating the Maror) to bring out the bitter, and speak about the challenges and difficulties. The Journey to redemption is through exile.

Korech–the Matzah may be broken, but it can be restored. That is what the Hillel sandwich has traditionally symbolized, our commitment to glue something broken back together. We believe there is always a second chance. There are three experiences in life: Pesach, Matzah, and Maror. “Pesach” tastes delicious. “Matzah” is bland. “Maror,” for most, is bitter. In life there are delicious moments, bland moments, and bitter moments. Korech teaches you that in certain points in life you need to know how to make a sandwich, function under all different types of circumstances, and find the opportunity for growth.

Shulchan Orech– a set table offers one the ability to look at his life and see that it is a table set by Hashem. We also are given the ability to create a sensitivity to, and appreciation of, a prepared table for others. A free person knows how to be a host. It is for that reason we begin the Haggadah with: “Whoever wants, come and eat.” A person who cannot feel his own value may never be able to give, since heis always looking to get, by searching for his own validation.

Tzafun– physical pleasure, though an integral part of our lives, sometimes gives way to a higher value. At the Seder, we hide the Afikomen, search, find, and win a prize! The same is true with our spiritual yearning to do the right thing. Although this yearning might be buried inside, we can search for it, and find it. The prize is pure freedom.

Barech– social pressure is one thing that holds some back from taking charge. When we left Egypt, we became free of the societal forces which restricted us to a narrow path. Freedom means doing the right thing, even when it may not be popular. The ability to thank Hashem for the small things that don't really matter is true liberty.

Hallel – redemption can be as quick as the blink of an eye. With "Hallel" we abandon all intellectual posits, and experience the emotional joy of freedom. Song is the expression of an excited soul. It is the way to break out of oneself and reach for freedom.

Nertzah –in Egypt, we had become immersed in the spiritual abyss of Egyptian society. When we finally were redeemed, it happened so quickly that even then we were unable to grasp its full significance. What this means is that year after year, each successful Sederadds meaning to the original events, and brings us closer to the final redemption.

L'shana haba b’Yerushalayim habenuya!