Now when a man becomes aware that he is falling asleep and begins to nod and he is afraid that a strong, heavy sleep may overcome him, the best advice for him is for him to request his friend to wake him from time to time or that he should go among people where a light shines brightly….the friend should know something of the great loss sleep brings and how necessary it is to awaken the sleeper…
— from R. Aaron Roth‘s “Agitation of the Soul”  IN The Schocken Book of Jewish Mystical Testimonies: A unique and inspiring collection of accounts by people who have encountered God from Biblical times to the present, NY: Schocken, 1997. Louis Jacobs, translation/commentary
Passover seems to me one of the times when Jews are called upon to reflect on past awakenings and to commit to awakening themselves and others.
Continue reading Passover and Awakening
The Exodus story is not an obvious tale of oppressed and oppressor peoples learning to jointly create a more equal society. Instead the Israelites leave Egypt, taking Egyptian riches with them, and are chastised by their leader whenever they look back; the Egyptians suffer many plagues before Pharaoh lets the Hebrews go, and they endure further disaster when Pharaoh’s army is drowned in the Sea of Reeds. How can we use this violent and permanent parting as a model for overcoming a history of oppression and division to learn respectful coexistence?
I posed a Facebook query to this effect and was impressed at the range and depth of ideas in the off-the-cuff responses I received. I thought many seder tables might benefit from these suggestions for learning and discussion, and I wanted to post this before Passover in a way that others could access. Apologies for lack of citation and other sketchiness. All errors or failure to communicate friends’ brilliant thoughts are mine.
Continue reading Beyond Oppression: Passover Lessons