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'As if' - Training the imagination

'As if' - Training the imagination

Mar 23, 2021

We looked today at one of the more famous instructions regarding the Pesach storytelling, based on the Talmud and codified by Maimonides:

In every generation, one must see/show themselves as if they personally had come out from the slavery of Egypt. (MT Matzah 7:6)

Much has been said about this. In particular, I've been blown away by the podcast of Rabbi Ami Silver, who reads the idea of 'seeing' as an integral part of the Pesach story. I took a different direction, a philological exploration of the phrase 'see oneself as if' in the entire corpus of Maimonides' books. Once you see the phrase come up again and again, it clearly has significance. You can see many of the places where the phrase is used in the sourcesheet here, and watch my 11-minute summary of the shiur here:

I read the phrase 'see yourself as if' as a real instruction, commanding the imagination to be employed in the performance of commandments and throughout life. (For more on Maimonides and imagination, see this article of José Faur, who says it all a lot better than me!)

On Pesach, we're expected to use the imagination, to open up the flow of inspiration: outwards, showing ourselves as free and enormously responsible people, and inwards, accepting the inspiration and becoming new and better versions of ourself.

Good luck with all that!! Chag sameach, may our minds stay liberated despite the confinements of the world.

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