Searching for your Ego
You may have noticed that in Judaism we approach the spiritual through our involvement in the physical. Sitting by a river meditating is nice, but real spirituality comes from making the mundane sacred.
Further, we see the physical as bridge to the spiritual because Judaism recognizes that the physical has been created as a visceral mirror for abstract spiritual concepts. Case in point: cleaning for chametz.
The Talmud states that actual mitzvah of cleaning out your chametz is to be done with a candle. After the chametz is found, it is then to be burned in a flame.
The Sages say that the wick of the candle is a metaphor for the body and the flame is a metaphor for the soul. Just like however you position the wick, the flame always points upwards to the heavens, so too, no matter what you do with your body, your soul always stays true to its source. Your essence always remains pure and good, no matter what you do with yourself.
ALL PUFFED UP
Chametz -- the air that puffs up dough into bread -- is the ego. Just as chametz makes bread look bigger than it is without adding any substance, so too an ego filled with self importance is ultimately nothing but hot air.
How to we remove the ego? The answer is through the seemingly mundane act of Passover cleaning.
We take the candle and shine it in the darkest hidden cracks, exposing the chametz. When we look at ourselves through the lens of the soul we expose the chametz hiding within and recognize it as a puffed-up illusion. Once exposed, it goes up in smoke.
SEASON OF FREEDOM
Passover is the season of freedom. But freedom can only come if you have released yourself from being a slave to your ego.
If your ego has you in a death-hold, if you run after success because you think only success will you be happy, if you need other people's praise and reassurance to feel okay about yourself, you are a enslaved. If you can't control your anger, or you are trapped by your fears, then you aren't free. Burning away the chametz of your personality frees you to the life of the soul.
There is another spiritual idea that comes from chametz that, when understood, teaches the true nature of the ego.
Chametz is nothing but puffed up matzah. But what chametz is actually made out of is nothing less than matzah itself! So too there is an idea that the ego is nothing but a corrupt twisted desire that actually has its basis in a drive coming from the soul. For example:
By seeing that often the ego is nothing but a corruption of a noble desire we can easily move past it and choose to be truly free.
Here are a couple of exercises that you can try this Passover.
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