Three archetypes cycle through my mind. Three archetypes I associate with the Exodus from Egypt. Archetypes that reflect how my people, the Jewish people, integrate the Exodus from Egypt. These archetypes happen on the inside and the outside. They are metaphors and events. These three are a flow, a pattern which describe what Judaism as a transformative spiritual path and movement towards tikkun olam is all about. They are – Revelation, Revolution and Ritual.
Archetype 1 – Revelation
Revelation is both Hashem’s revelation to Moshe at the burning bush and also the revelation at Mt. Sinai. By the way, revelation is not just a new idea. Revelation is not just a better mousetrap. This is not just the jump from cellphones to smartphones, this is not horses to cars, this is not a horizontal change, this is not the light bulb ‘aha’ moment that changes how things are done in the world. Good ideas, new businesses, or new branches of scientific research with massive implications for human civilization are amazing but this is not what I am talking about. I am talking about connecting to the Maker of reality. I am talking about Divine Revelation.
I am talking about God. I am talking about connecting to that which is timeless. The Infinite Ground of Being. That which was is and will be. That which was present at the beginning of time, and that which will be millions of millennia from now when smartphones and cellphones will have been forgotten. That which transcends future and past. God. That which our finite minds cannot comprehend. Beyond any name. Beyond any concept. Beyond the concept of beyond.
I am talking about Divine Revelation. I am talking about the impossible occurring. The infinite kissing the finite. What’s impossible? That God talks to Moses, and tells him that a change is going to come and he is going to be the harbinger of that change. That it’s time for the Jewish people to leave Egypt. That is revelation.
Archetype 2 – Revolution
The next step is revolution. Now the impossible happens. It’s rivers running backwards and mountains melting like wax. It’s the ten plagues, rivers turning to blood, wild beasts running through the streets, swarms of locusts blotting out the sky, darkness which is so thick you can’t cut it with a knife. And then the unthinkable, change, total change. It’s the system coming down. It’s ‘that’s just the way it is’ and ‘there’s nothing we can do about it’ getting turned on its head. It’s Pharoah’s throne at the top of the pyramid collapsing because one of the main lessons of the Exodus from Egypt is that the power of man is an illusion.
Life and death is not in the hands of pharaoh. It is in the hands of God. It was always in the hands of God. Although people worshipped pharaoh as a god, because pharaoh was in control, and pharaoh was the expert/ceo/best of the best/boss/alpha male… it was all b.s.. Pharoah never had any real power. The Torah forbids us to engage in idol worship. Idol worship is worshipping anything that is not real, and the only thing that is real is God. That means that there is nothing to fear in pharoah. Fear stands for false evidence appearing real.
What is important to me about the archetype of revolution is that reminds us everything can change now. Revolution. All the bricks that were in place in Egypt are the same structures that today are dysfunctionally and pathologically destroying human society and they can change. But, we need to be connected to that which is beyond power in order to transcend the power structures that we are surrounded by and to change them. Even if it seems as if there is nothing we can do, that we have no power, it’s not true. Through Hashem’s power, we can leave Egypt. That is revolution.
Archetype 3 – Ritual
Time passes and it is easy to forget. It is easy for the dream to become a myth. Ritual is about remembering. It is remembering that renews. Ritual is about using the power of music, words, sacred space, drama, catharsis, ecstasy to viscerally remember that we are free. Remembering that the power of man is an illusion. Ritual is the Pesach seder. Ritual is mentioning the Exodus from Egypt in Shabbat kiddush, in our morning, afternoon and evening prayers. In its ideal form, the Oral Torah which is passed on, our Jewish practice, would actually reconnect us to the revelation at Sinai.
We need to remember, because in 2016 when it seems as if there are so many things that we can’t change, that we can’t do anything about, we need to remember that this is not true. The purpose of the commandments is not blind obedience to perpetuate a backwards religion. The purpose of the commandments is to create the ritualistic context to re-experience revelation. Remembering and re-revealing the truth of God’s existence and our absolute freedom to co-create our reality with God (keep in mind this is not about ego, this is not about creating what I want to see, it is about aligning my will with God’s will).
Ritual is about remembering the Exodus from Egypt, that we can be free. The Midrash says that in Egypt, the Jewish people were on the 49th level of Tumah, the 49th level of impurity, of dehumanization, of forgetting our essence, and we were taken out of slavery and into freedom. And we can do that again, we can become free, we can restore ourselves, restore the world, to the way it should be. Tikkun Olam.