Playing and Traveling in Thought Together
Batar raysha gufah azel / The body follows after the head (thought precedes action)
Talmud Bavli Mesechet Eruvin 41a
Hamakshavah nikrate almah d’cherut / Thinking is called “the world of freedom”
Rabbi Dov Ber, “The Magid of Mezeritch”
And you can fly
High as a kite if you want to
Faster than light if you want to
Speeding through the universe
Thinking is the best way to travel
“The Best Way to Travel,” by Mike Pinder, from the Moody Blues album
In Search of the Lost Chord
So keep on playin’ those mind games together
Faith in the future, outta the now
You just can’t beat on those mind guerillas
Absolute elsewhere in the stones of your mind
Yeah, we’re playin’ those mind games forever
Projectin’ our images in space and in time
“Mind Games,” by John Lennon, from the John Lennon album Mind Games
The M’kubbalim, or Kabbalists, the great mystical teachers of Judaism, when speaking of the Torah’s story of slavery in Egypt and the subsequent liberation from that lowly condition couch it in terms of a contrast in two diametrically opposed states of mind the Israelites experienced. Mitzriyim, the Hebrew term for Egypt, is explained to derive from the term maytzarim / boundaries or restrictions. Therefore, the true shibud Mitzriyim / slavery in Egypt was actually that the Israelites were restricted in their thinking. They remained chained to a state of mind called mochin d’katnut, or constricted consciousness. Their slavery was not only physical but intellectual and spiritual their minds were locked up and enslaved. Upon liberation, they threw off those restricting shackles on thought and ascended to the exalted state of mochin d’gadlut, or expanded consciousness, which enabled them to then subsequently experience the incredible revelation of the Torah.
Understanding the above, I find it ironic that so many rabbinical “authorities” each year declare and demand a stricter and more robotic conformance to a constantly expanding and strangling set of “rules,” both in how one conducts and participates in the Seder (which commemorates and celebrates liberation from slavery) and also in how one observes the holiday. When Pesach is presented and experienced as excruciating and painful, it is no wonder that each year more people are alienated from participating in an event that actually offers a richness of potential for so much personal enjoyment and meaning.
Fortunately our congregational family isn’t afflicted with such a mochin d’katnut / constricted consciousness. Our Sederim were fun-filled, joyous, and meaningful. Puppets, music, Shlomo stories, improvisational drama, and a bit of history, which inspired lively, interactive discussion, mixed together playfully and open mindedly made for a Seder experience that was as delicious as the food that was enjoyed (and thanks to my rebbetzin, Rivka, for organizing and making sure the tasty Seder food was there for us to enjoy). When we liberate our minds and cast off what are sometimes self-imposed shackles, we can experience a Judaism that not only entertains and is fun but inspires and lets our minds play together creatively to generate further pleasurable opportunities and powers our hearts to pour out a positive loving energy that is truly healing and contributes to making a better, loving, and more peaceful world.
So let us be the “free men and women” that is the goal of the recitation of the Haggadah, and our mochin d’gadlut liberated minds will travel unfettered far and wide playing creative mind games together that will continue to beautify our experience of Judaism throughout the year.