Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Unblocked Lips


I find it interesting to see how the message of Passover can be related to real life issues. Here's a recent realization of mine in that spirit: 

Moses complained that he was of “blocked lips”. Conventionally I understood this to mean, as I was taught in my childhood, that Moses had a speech impediment due to the story of the angel moving his hand away from the gold to the coals and then touching his mouth, which was burned.

Years later, a Breslover devotee explained to me that “blocked lips” really meant that Moses felt blocked from bringing down his deep spiritual understanding to someone living in Pharaoh's narrow mindset. To Moses, the gap seemed unbridgeable. In fact, this was a taste of the entire Jewish situation, where slaves were unable to express their reality to even themselves let alone to their masters. Often enough, really deep pain can paralyze the heart and mouth from expressing. At least, Moses heard the voice of his own heart. He just expressed doubts about being able to reach Pharaoh. However, when it came to the Jewish slaves the Bible relates,”They did not hear Moses because of short breath and hard labor.”

Moses did not tell them anything strange. He was merely talking to their all too familiar inhumane condition. Yet, even someone speaking sympathetically about their own hardships did not resonate with them. Unlike Moses, mired in the daily grind of enslavement, they were internally deaf to their own voices of pain. Surviving slavery demanded a heavy personal price paid in the currency of psychological repression. One had to be blind not to see that they were trapped in a very frightening state of enslavement. However, this was accompanied by a second even more tragic state of enslavement -  an internal enslavement. The slaves internalized their slavery and their masters’ self serving narratives that went along with their sorry state.

Emerging from slavery, meant freedom from the blockages that were the bricks and mortar of their slave mindsets. It meant being released from the  suppression of their own inner voices.  Interestingly, the Hebrew word for Passover, “Pesach” can be seen as a contraction of two words “Peh Sach”, meaning "the mouth speaks". Of course on the obvious level this is referring to overt conversation. However, on a more subtle level this is referring to the mouth behind our mouths, the mouth of the human heart - an internal mouth which speaks the words into the biological mouth. Obviously, liberation from their internal slavery took much longer than their liberation from Egypt, the land mass. Even so there was a measure of immediate success as the Jews were able to express themselves in song right after their redemption. Their inner wellsprings spontaneously burst open into unified song.

In my teens, a Rabbinic teacher related to me that while the Jewish journey through diaspora is still happening, it is impossible to adequately mourn the unspeakable inhumane treatment and losses we suffered. Wading through the diaspora’s mire, mutes the heart. We will first have a long period of national mourning when the Messiah arrives and then followed by everlasting rejoicing.

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