The Freedom of Compassion

Mar 27th, 2010 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays
Albert Einstein spoke about how our egocentrism alienates us from other forms of life. “A human being is a part of a whole, called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest…a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

We are critical of the wicked son for separating himself from the community, but where do find ourselves widening our circle of compassion? Where do we express our empathy for the entire community? Where do we embrace all of creation?

“David was very distressed, for the people were ready to stone him, for the soul of the people was embittered – Marah – as in Marror, each over his sons and daughters; but David drew strength from God, his Lord.” (Samuel I 30:6) It is interesting that the verse juxtaposes the bitterness of the people with David’s drawing strength from God. Bitterness is a strong indication that a person is not drawing strength from God. It seems as if the people’s bitterness increased because David, in all his magnificent spiritual strength, was not empathic of their bitterness.

When we eat the Marror we are not only empathic with the pain of the slaves in Egypt; we are empathic with all those who are bitter.

Karpas reminds us of the original greens that did not grow until Adam was formed and prayed for rain. Adam had to immediately accept responsibility for all of creation.

Marror is our expression of empathy. Karpas is our embrace of our role in creation.

Where do we widen our circle of compassion? “Whoever is hungry; come and eat,” even our “lachma anya,” even if we do not have much to share.

We are never free when we are alone and disconnected from others and from creation. We will not escape the prison of our delusions of independence unless we can use the Seder to open our arms and embrace the unity of creation.

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