The Meaning of Passover

Passover is understood as the commemoration of the Israelites being led out of Egypt by Moses, after having been slaves under the pharaoh’s rule for hundreds of years. The kabbalists explain that in truth, the story of the Israelites in Egypt is the story of each one of us.

Egypt represents our negative ego, as the kabbalists call it, the desire to receive for the self alone, that part of us that pushes us to care only about ourselves and to disregard others. The redemption from Egypt, then, is the process of transformation that each one of us is meant to go through throughout our lives so that we can achieve the blessings and fulfillment for which we are destined. We are meant to diminish the power of “Egypt” and selfishness in ourselves and become a person more concerned with others, sharing more, caring more, and through this, awaken a great Light and blessings for ourselves.

From this we can understand the concept of eating kosher for Passover. During these days we refrain from eating leavened bread, that is, bread that has risen. Leavened bread represents our ego, our need to be known, to rise, to overtake others, all the negative aspects of ego and selfishness. This time of year, then, is an important time of reflection: What is my “leavened bread?” What is it about myself that I want to refrain from, that I want to remove from my life? Through this reflection we become better, stronger, and more connected to the supernal Light, receiving the blessings and fulfillment for which we are destined.

—Michael Berg is a Kabbalah scholar and author. He is co-Director of The Kabbalah Centre. You can follow Michael on Twitter. His latest book is What God Meant.