Category Archives: Passover

50 Mendful Steps (Counting Omer)

We left Egypt, we are free, now what?

I invite you to count with us!

Daily inspirations will be shared for 50 days at Mendful Community on Facebook Please like page and follow us here

It’s Passover, we left Egypt, the narrow and constricting place called Mitzrayim in Hebrew. We are wandering in the wilderness of freedom looking at horizon hoping to catch a new, or a renewed glimpse of hope for our future to mend what is not well and whole yet. 
The archetypal Exodus journey story is a teaching story we relate to in different ways depending where we are in life. Once in a while we sense a desire to change or to reflect and with hope hope to feel free enough to change. It all begins with making time to reflect to gain new perspectives and insights.

Now that we are free , we have another changce to stop and ask about the meaning of our lives and the future.
It is human nature to desire to live a life that matters and which is also enjoyable and free of pain and hopelessness. This is the season to reflect, adjust and reorient life to move in the direction of our aspirations. 
At this season of spring and renewal we open life the spring blooms and curious as the new branches on the trees, to know what is ahead in our lives and how we could shape our future to live more fully and with more ease and joy.
Passover, Pesach in Hebrew, invites us to lift the veils that obscure our joy and potential and shed light into corners we have not visited in a while or never. The parting of the Sea of Reeds, a birth place of a people passing through the dry land open to them among the pillars of water threatening to crash down on them, is a birth metaphor. Every human life somehow have manages, endures and courageously makes it through to come to this world.
After the “opening” at the parting of the sea we tell at the Seder, we begin the Omer Counting (sefirat ha’Omer). A Mendful journey of 50 days to guide us on discovery and reflection until Shavuot. (June 9th in 2019) I hope you can make time for daily reflection for 50 days, make it count, reflect and take action to create the life you desire to bring more ease and contentment.  

I will guide us on the journey of counting through the mystical flow of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life for 7 weeks. I will share daily inspirations for 50 days at Mendful Community on Facebook Please like page and follow us here

What is Sefirat ha’Omer
It is the counting of the days during the period between Passover and Shavuot holiday. Literally it means to count sheaths; bundles of grain.  It is a time of self reflection with the aim to renew our awareness of abundance and bring more flow into our lives.

How would life be if we take the time really count for us? As we journey from Passover as free people, we walk on a 50 days bridge of daily practices to connect us to what we love. We engage in authentic reflection once a day as we count the days connecting to new and renewed mendful possibilities. We make room each day to connect with our heart’s desires, journey in the mystery of the unknown wilderness, in the desert as the Israelites.


Many your holiday and counting the Omer be enjoyable and meaningful, Rabbi Sigal

Retreats with Rabbi Sigal… June, September, December

Ease into Messiness

Why Seder?

Seder in Hebrew means order.                                            Receive our newsletter

Messiness is life. Humans have been talking and writing about chaos and messiness for thousands of years. It has always been a part of our experience and motivated us to change. With determination and creativity we seek to bring about more order.

Out of chaos the Earth was formed, a few ancient myths of creation tell us, the Genesis narrative among them. The goal of these stories is to make sense of the unknown and to organize. The general thrust of these myths is that an all-knowing and powerful God takes charge of chaos and with superb wisdom was able to organize the world and guide it. (Don’t you sometimes wish your world could be effortlessly and efficiently organized like that?)

But still, even with a super powerful deity, the messy story continues. Our human experience is a chain of messes, monumental ones and smaller ones; personal, communal and environmental. To help us cope with this reality, many aspects of every religion are dedicated to organization and order. For example: rituals, laws, governance etc. They serve a purpose.

We don’t like messiness and we want to have more control because we are uncomfortable with the unknown. We like things to be more predictable, known, so they are less anxiety provoking. We don’t like surprises. Or maybe we like only good surprises. (Although, some of us rather not even experience those.) In our age, when anxiety is a prevalent condition, a pause of “Seder” of ease and enjoyment is a welcomed remedy.

When we clean and prepare for Passover with anticipation for a night of orderliness (Seder) we remember messiness is part of life, but we also remember our ability to bring about order. We are able to shape and control space and time (i.e, ritual.)

The Jewish year cycle of holidays invites us to routinely encounter themes on the map of human and societal needs. Spring holidays are opportunities for cleaning, organizing and celebrating order and openness. An invitation to remember that having order and routines can be supportive to us spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. Predictability that comes with order allows the body-mind to relax on all levels. It is relaxing when the amount of decisions we need to make is reduced. At the Seder we can lean back, sing, eat and enjoy. The order of the Seder, the meal and the story are basically prescribed, although many embellish on it for fun. The Seder ritual gives us the permission to effortlessly “ride” it to the end of the evening and declare it complete.

I hope you can enjoy the evening of order and ease. When we are at ease we open more fully and enjoy the mystery of life. Because, after all, life is a wonderful mystery, and with all the control we try to exercise, it’s messy and we don’t fully know. It may sound contradictory but, the more we ease into messiness, accepting life is an unknown mystery, the less anxiety we experience. In a way, reducing our angsts about needing to control everything, combined with some preparation and orderliness, allows us to relax into the mystery with more ease, and awe. That, my friends, is freedom.

I wish you a holiday of ease and contentment. Dayenu!

Find New Passover Freedom

Spring welcomes us with sunshine and new colors. Life is infused with hope again. Passover is the holiday of Spring and freedom. It is also the holiday of new beginnings, asking questions and telling stories. It is time to come together and share with others. We eat unleavened bread (Matzah) as a reminder to let go of old “sticky” habits. Here are some Passover ideas to bring to Seder .Enjoy!

1. Ask New Questions
Although it is fun to sing the traditional four questions and do traditional things, many people become bored and tune out. To generate engaging discussions around the table try to ask new questions. What questions would you ask? What questions other have? For example: Name four highlights related to new beginnings in the last year? What are some of the experiences or events that are related to freedom and what are those related to oppression in the last year?

2. Put the Say in Say-der (Seder)
Hagadah, the book we read at the Seder, literally means to tell. This year try more telling and less reading. For example, use the the four cups of freedom to talk about the stages and kinds of freedom. The Hebrew name of the holiday Pesach, as pointed out to to us by a Hassidic Rabbi, can also be understood as related to telling. If we divide the word in to 2 words: Peh-sach, it means mouth-speaking/telling.
Give yourself the permission to leave the usual script and improvise on the many themes of the holiday.  Dare to be dramatic! For example, tell stories about your own life and talk about world events in the last year that relate to the themes of freedom and bondage. 

3. Becoming Less Sticky or Stuck
If Passover is the holiday of freedom and liberation, why is the food we eat is binding? With the awareness of sustainable and healthier lifestyle, our diet is also an expression of our choice to be more free. Some people are adapting a gluten free diet, which in my sensibility relates to the Passover theme of freedom and becoming less sticky.
We know now that some foods are “sticky” (hence called glue-ten) and cause inflammation. Over the years I have adopted a Passover diet rich in vegetables, fruits and protein and less grain. I especially try to consume less Matzah.

4. All are welcome – Kol Dich’fin
Kol dich’fin, in Aramaic means all are welcome. When we make plans for the seder each year we ask, who else can we invite? On this holiday of freedom we ask how can we be the force of good and share in our liberation? We count our blessings and extend our thanks by sharing an evening with people who we don’t know well, or people who are alone, had a hard year and can use the invitation to feel more free for one night.
We care and share with others with the tradition of kol dich’fin, all are welcome. We let people know there is always room at our table. Small gestures; opening our doors, sharing a meal with others, are actions to help heal and mend our world.

FDR’s Four Freedoms for Passover

Let’s begin with a question: 
What is the most reoccurring number at the Seder?
I begin with a question about numbers because the Seder is a night of questions, and also of numbers. We ask four questions, tell about the four children and drink four cups of wine. 
The four cups of wine at the Seder are the four stages of liberation:
1. becoming aware of oppression  2. opposing oppression 3. imagining alternatives  4. accepting personal and communal responsibility to act for freedom.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) in his 1941 state of the union address spoke of the four freedoms we should protect anywhere in the world.  They are: 
1. freedom of speech and expression 2. freedom from fear 3. freedom from want 4. freedom of religion. 

Passover1Passover(Pesach in Hebrew) is the holiday of freedom. Hag ha’chayrut! (Hag = holiday, Chayrut = freedom) 
The Seder is a celebration of freedom. We sit around the table and tell stories of oppression and liberation “as if we are coming out of Egypt.” In Hebrew Mitzrayyim literally means narrow places. 

Something New: May I suggest that instead of just blessing and drinking we use the occasion of drinking the four cups of wine to pause and bring to the table, literally in this case, a discussion about the four stages of libration and FDR’s four freedoms? What do the four freedoms mean to us today? How do we guard and express them? Which one is most important now, and why? 

Lastly, sharing a funny video about Seder. It makes me laugh just thinking about it. Watch and enjoy!
In light of the video a reminder.  We can eat vegetables (salad, potatoes) after we say the blessing of Karpas early in the Seder. It will be a more pleasant experience to all with some food.
I wish you a wonderful Passover and a delightful spring.