As we approach Passover, I’ve learned of a new way to think about the holiday. It stems from a conversation I was in recently, when a friend shared how her mother freed her from guilt.
A few years earlier, she and her family moved away from her parents, and her father used to needle her about how much he missed his grandkids. My friend confessed her guilt to her mother, who said “Do you really think your father is moping around all the time? He is fine and happy. He is living his life, and you are living yours.”
My friend said it was like a weight lifted from her shoulders. She truly felt liberated in that moment. And she was liberated – we carry these negative feelings around with us. They weigh us down, and prevent us from being our best selves.
In past years, I’ve written how we must free ourselves from the our personal “narrow place” every Passover.
Yet we did not free ourselves in Egypt. There were many people involved in our liberation – leaders like Moses, Aaron, and Miriam; individuals who painted the doorposts with lambs blood so they and their families would be spared the visit from the angel of death, and of course the Torah teaches that the Divine itself played a direct hand in our liberation.
So this year, I have a new Mussar practice to suggest.
****Here’s the Mussar Practice*****
Free someone else. Look for opportunities to free someone else from a long standing burden. Help them to get free of their “narrow place.” Here are a few ways you can do this.
1. Dispel a myth or story. Encourage people to walk their own path and dispel the story that is causing them suffering. In my friends case, her mother stepped up and dispelled the myth that her father was unhappy. If you are lucky, someone will confide in you and be open to advice. Remember, giving advice unlooked for is not helpful and is actually forbidden in the Talmud.
2. Forgive someone. Has someone asked for forgiveness, but you have found it hard to forgive? Find a way to forgive them, and help them move past the guilt they are feeling. Have they promised to never do it again and are they making good on it? Healing and reconciliation is a collaborative process – try to get to the place of forgiveness by talking with them if you need to.
3. End the guilt trip. Maybe you are playing the role of the father in this story, and are guilt tripping someone else. Your words may be having a far bigger impact than you realize. All trips come to an end. Take this opportunity to let the other person know that you are over it and they should not feel guilty. Not sure this is you? This about your relationships with friends and family, and do an audit to see if you are laying it on too thick.
On Passover, we are instructed to think as though we were personally delivered from bondage. The Divine heard our cry and set us free.
We all carry the spark of Divinity, and have an opportunity to participate in the liberation of others. (If you are unsure of the Divinity, think of it as the core spark of human goodness.)
This practice is a great way to focus on the needs of others, and provide help where you can.
How do you plan to liberate others this Passover? Leave a comment and let me know.
Want to understand what is holding you back from liberating others? Take the Soul Trait Profile Quiz.