The Moon Is Full, Passover begins – it’s time to open our minds

April 5, 2023

by Hagar Harpak

Art by Hadas Harpak

The constellation of Libra is dancing with the moon today. The moon is full. Spring in the Northern Hemisphere is reaching arms and legs out of the ground, reentering the world anew. Jewish people around the world celebrate the beginning of Passover.

Passover is a celebration of liberation, marking the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, their escape from slavery, and the miracles that made this journey to freedom possible. 

Libra is an archetype that seeks balance, always weighing the options, wavering between choices, carrying deep appreciation for beauty, reaching for justice, and sitting at its heart are relationships.

Libra wants to make things right. They will look at things from many different angles. They will not get too caught in one way. But they’ll have a hard time deciding, committing, and following through. Libra says a big YES. And needs to learn that yes to something means no to other things.

After years of being enslaved, the Israelites followed Moses, who was, according to the mythology of the Torah, following the word of god, to freedom. 

Not often told is the story of Miryam, Moses’ sister, who played the drum and led the people in song and dance as they crossed the Red Sea to safety, as it parted and allowed them to walk on land where water flows. Moments later the sea closed in on the Egyptian guards who followed them, trying to bring them back to the Pharaoh. 

Miryam had a great relationship with both her brothers, Aaron and Moses. It was this freedom between them that allowed her to question Moses, who was, no doubt, a charismatic leader. “What do you mean you hear god?” she asked. “What do you mean he’s speaking through you? Isn’t the power of the universe speaking through all of us? Don’t we all hear god/goddess/nature/the cosmos?” Aaron was wondering about that too.. 

The three siblings often had spiritual, philosophical conversations into the night. Moses heard god through prophecy and command. The voice of god spoke clearly to him. Miryam heard the goddess in the beat of the drum, in the movement of her body, in the ecstasy of dancing together with her friends. Moses heard answers. Miryam heard questions. 

But the patriarchal god of Jewish religion didn’t like questions. This mythic patriarchal power  rules the people not by the possibility that opens up through ambiguity, but by the certainty that seals the deal and produces one way that is the right way, and that’s the only way, and that’s it. 

This god that spoke through Moses didn’t like Miryam’s doubts, questions, and explorations. Moses was fine with it, by the way. This male god was not so mad at Aaron for his doubts. After all, Aaron was a man. It’s only a real issue when a woman dares to question authority and open up the conversation. 

So punishment came. God gave Miryam a skin disease and ordered her to stay outside the camp for a while. Moses missed his sister. After all, she was a source of wisdom in his life, a good friend, and a nurturing presence. He asked god to take pity on her and let her come back. God allowed her to go back to the camp, but her skin was never the same after that. Neither was her spirit.

I wonder if this skin condition was something she actually caught in Egypt, when god tried to convince the Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, and punished the Egyptians with ten plagues, boils being the sixth one, the tenth being the one the holiday Passover is named after (The Israelites marked their door, so that the angel of death would pass over their homes as he collected the souls of the first born males of Egyptian families). 

The message for women was clear – don’t speak up, don’t question, don’t doubt, don’t lead. Follow the men, be obedient, be quiet, don’t make waves. 

See, whenever we make progress, whenever we break walls and push through limits, whenever we liberate ourselves and society, there are usually going to be pieces that aren’t yet freed, and/or people that become more oppressed through the very process of forming independence. 

The history of the US, anyone? The history of Israel anyone? We can be here all day… 

I was doing a little search into the etymology of the word Mizraim, which is Egypt in Hebrew. There’s a lot there. Two things spoke to me:

  1. It might come from the word Mezarim, which means boundaries, or limits. 
  2. It might come from Mezar which means from a narrow place.

Freedom is never without boundaries.

To be free is to choose what to commit ourselves to, what to make life about. Every yes that comes from freedom is a no to a lot of other things. Choice is at the core of freedom. And making a choice, in fact, binds us. To be free isn’t to do whatever we want whenever we want. To be free is to take responsibility for how we do things, and for who we keep becoming, 

As we liberate ourselves from tightness, from narrowness, as we free our ways of seeing, thinking, and doing things, we want to make sure that we don’t get caught in one way of doing it. 

Our progressive agenda shouldn’t put us in boxes and limit our ways of expression. 

As we step further on the path of open mindedness, we want to pay attention to the places where we’re becoming, in fact, more narrow minded. As we make progress in human rights issues, we want to watch out for the tendency to become too stuck in one way of thinking, speaking, and doing. We want to be careful not to become puritan in our attempt to be respectful. Let’s not try to be perfect in how we talk about things, explore ideas, and advance the rights and the freedom of all beings. Perfection and certainty close off the avenues of growth. 

Miryam was canceled because she was questioning the popular culture’s liberating leadership. She was questioning the current stream of activism, and she was sent out of camp. 

We can make room for more voices. We can celebrate doubt, because it helps open our minds. We can listen to more possibilities and become smarter and stronger. We can choose not to get too certain, too sure, too concrete, but rather keep ourselves flexible, fluid, and willing to breathe in the discomfort of paradox and dichotomy. 

The Moon Is Full, Passover begins – it’s time to open our minds, and to liberate the places where our attempt to be progressive narrows our ways of thinking and being.

Happy Passover if you’re celebrating. Happy Full moon! 

Do let us know what you think and how you feel about all of this in the comments below. 

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