"Was du erlebst kann keine macht der welt dir rauben" - "What you have experienced, no power on earth can take from you" is something Victor E. Frankl quotes in his book Man's Search for Meaning. As I was on the plane returning from Mexico, where I was lucky enough to spend Passover, that line stuck out to me. I had just spent about 11 days in Cancun, Mexico where I worked as a camp counselor on a Pesach program. I cannot express how lucky I was to go, for I was really taken care of the whole time; the food was absolutely incredible, my co-workers were amazing, the rabbis and speakers there were truly inspiring, and I got to stare out into the ocean whenever I wanted (at least once a day).
Anyways, it was after the first seder when I first rushed to the ocean to sit and think. My thoughts weren't so clear, but nevertheless..I enjoyed the solitude in nature that I don't really get here in NYC. It was after the second seder though that I really had a very cool experience. I once again ran to the waves to be in solitude and think. I started to remember something my friend told me how the world runs on a somewhat circular energy, and if you imagine a long coil or slinky, that under each time period is the time period from the previous year and previous year, and so on to thousands of years ago. So she said that on Pesach we should experience the freedom that they felt, if you tap into the energy.
I thought this was cool...but then it really dawned on me...it was two years ago that I started questioning what I was doing with my life. It was at UCF chabad Seder when I felt uncomfortable and not at ease. I wanted something more..I was confused...and for those of you that know me, you know the long story. But to make a long story short, I basically came back one night from a night out and couldnt look at myself in the mirror and it was scary and I decided I needed chance so I called my NCSY rabbi the next morning, and got a dreat piece of inspiration about freedom being inside of you and it was up to me to let it shine etc etc and I went to Israel the following semester (check out previous blogs to read about experiences there).
Anyways, I knew that my friend was talking about tapping into energy from thousands of years ago, but I started feeling those feelings of inner freedom i got two years ago, and boy did the tears pour. But it felt amazing. There I was standing before the endless ocean my eyes were closed and it felt like I was floating. I can't really explain it, but it was a hitpodidut (form of meditation) moment and it was incredible.
Some of my fellow staff members and I decided to attend some of the shiurs offered when we had time from the great scholars in residence. After talking about life the previous night, it was almost as if Rabbi Zweig (who gave the shiur was talking to me). He said that the word 'Anochi" the first word of the ten commandments is an Egyptian word. I was puzzled and he posed the question of course we were thinking; why would the first word of the ten commandments be Egyptian?
He continued saying that there is no Hebrew word for history. The word used is Zechirah, remembrance. The Jews when they were leaving Egypt were not commanded to study the history of what took them out of history in the first place, because history is a closed book. It's said and done, it's permanent. We are supposed to remember what happened, but remember it in a way where it empowers us. We were supposed to take all the bad things that we encountered in Egypt but use them to our advantage when we left! Yes we were at such an unholy level when we left, and yes part of the pesach offering was barely. But what is barely? Barely is an animal feed! But when it came to Shavuot, when we got the torah, part of the offering was wheat! Wheat, the sustainer of life bread!! We went from an animalistic culture acting in unmentionable ways to amazing learned people! But we had to work at it.
And that, Rabbi Zweig said was the essence of what Pesach really is! Anochi Hashem, I am your G-d; Anochi is an Egyptian word because Hashem knows that we are not perfect beings and even if we messed up in life we come back stronger from our past. Why do we sing the song "Avadim Hayinu" We were slaves! Because we are rejoicing in the major inner freedom we achieved as we are learning from our past. Don't close out who you were before, what you have done. Take it and learn from it and spread the wisdom from learning from your past!
So his dvar Torah spoke to me loudly, and I was set on such a spiritual high, that I'm still feeding off of. And now, as the omer is upon us, I'm very conscious when I count each day, working on the specific sefirot of the day. Not to mention that today is Rosh Chodesh Iyar. The month of light! It can also stand for, Ani Hashem Rofecha - I am Hashem your healer. How perfect knowing that of course I am still unraveling things from my past and trying to work on them and fix them for the future...but Hashem is here for me, for you, for us...it's time to heal - so let the tears flow and rejoicing me upon us - Chodesh Tov and happy omer counting!!