Slaves to Materialism

Readings for the seder table.

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We contribute to changes in the world's atmosphere and climate in ways that cause harm to many species when we burn fossil fuels; when we destroy forests; when we release ozone-destroying chemicals into the atmosphere.

On the day before Passover, it is a custom to search throughout one's home for any trace of chametz--leavening. One way of looking at chametz/leaven is as the ways in which your life is "bloated" in a material sense--the stuff and activities that are superfluous to and distracting from the fulfillment of your deepest dreams and goals.

Identifying your "Chametz"

Look around your house for the "stuff" that isn't really important to you. Identify the "stuff" that encumbers more than it liberates. Roughly calculate the hours of your life-energy you devoted to earning enough to acquire this "stuff." Examine how you spend your time and identify the activities that are "chametzdik," unnecessary expenditures of your time and life-energy spent in pursuit of things that are irrelevant or distracting to the life purposes you identified above. What would living a "chametz-free" life for a week be like?

Identifying your "Matzah"

Matzah is called "simple bread" or "poor man's bread." One way of looking at matzah is as those simple activities and things that truly nourish you and help you accomplish your deepest dreams. What matzah can you identify in your life? What are the physical items in your household that really do nourish you and assist you in the fulfillment of your dreams? What are the "matzahdik" activities in your life, those activities that bring your closer to the fulfillment of your life's purposes?

Identifying your Mitzrayims

What Mitzrayims, what "straits and limitations," can you identify in your own life? To what are you enslaved? In what areas of your life are you in need of liberation?

Making a Personal Exodus

In every generation, a person is obligated to regard himself as if he personally left Egypt.

-The Haggadah

How might you use this information is preparing for and carrying out your own "Exodus," your own journey of liberation this Passover? What "chametz" would you like to eliminate and what "matzah" would you like to "ingest" more of during the week of Passover in order to help you break free from some of your "Mitzrayims"?

Making a Communal Exodus

The original Exodus was much more than a collection of personal liberations. It was a collective liberation, a liberation of an entire people. How can we engage our society in an Exodus from materialism and over-consumption? How do we begin the journey towards the Promised Land, a land rich in community, rich in opportunities for the development of our human potential, and rich in relationships with each other and the rest of the planet?

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