A Passover Post: How Moses Found his Heart

Moses in the NileThrough the ritual of Passover we learn a story about the liberation of the human spirit. It is a timeless tale of the yearning of all peoples to be released from the yoke of oppression and becoming free.

This story recounts events that in some form actually happened, but it also symbolizes an inner journey that we each take. Humankind has struggled through history for freedom from those who would enslave them, but each of us, every day, fight to free ourselves from our inner persecutors who hold us back from being our true self, or being all that we can be.

The place where our true self resides,  the place of our greatest potential, is called the heart. The Passover story tells us that it is our task to free our heart from the bondage which keeps us from being what we are meant to be.

The mythic story of Moses is a story of finding the heart, and is only one variation of a theme that has been recounted in countless forms throughout every culture in history.

These stories reveal the necessary steps to finding the heart. They tell of how an endangered child is transformed into the hero; how the fool becomes king; how the ash-covered girl becomes queen. Through such self-realization we manifest our identity, purpose, passion, power, and love. When we use the expression “finding the heart,” it means that the best in us has been there all along. It is not that we need to change. Rather, we have to liberate what is in us in potential, but has been kept hidden.

This story of Exodus, of searching for, and finding the promised land, is written on all of our hearts. Through living out this story we discover our unique and individual natures.

The Moses story is a profound one, and so has endless meanings. Such is the nature of what I call “yantric symbols,” where a yantra is a “revelatory conduit of cosmic truths.” Such symbols and stories are worthy of endless contemplation, and  their meanings are forever unfolding, revealed by our individual encounter with it.

One aspect of this yantric story is that it speaks to an essential task of self-cultivation that is necessary for finding our hearts: expression. This is revealed by the meaning of Moses’s name. In order to protect the endangered, newborn Moses, his mother put him into the waters of the River Nile in a papyrus vessel. He was found there by the Pharaoh’s daughter. She named him Moses, which meant, “I drew him out of the water.” Expression, the drawing out of ourselves, is central to our identity. Expressing our truth is one way of traveling the journey from who we are to becoming what we are meant to be.

The theme of expression, of going into our inaccessible depths, discovering treasure and returning to the world to share our discoveries is a common motif in endless myths and fairy tales. In one very telling example, The Giant Who Had No Heart in His Body, Boots had to fish a duck’s egg out of a well. Inside the egg he found the giant’s heart. Expression is one way of fishing out our own heart, which is often encased in a hard shell and kept in the bottom of the well.

One central means of self-expression is giving voice to our emotions. Our emotions give our lives value, meaning, quality, color, and depth. They are the source of our passion and power. Our emotions reveal the desires of the heart. If we allow our feelings to speak we unearth important, hidden aspects of who we are and what we need.

When our true natures have been kept locked in a box at the bottom of the sea, our natural enthusiasm, love, and energy may putrefy. We can lose touch with our tenderer emotions and become embittered. When we open that carbuncle encrusted box for the first time, what comes out are the rank odors of the rot that has built up over the years. We might need to spend time feeling and expressing our rage at having been trapped for so long. We may need to cry tears to bind the wounds we have suffered.

We fear to open the box, because we know that what has been kept inside has turned beastly, but with expression, what we discover is that our emotions transform. We can only find the true richness of our feeling life, and all the love inside of us, by letting the darkness out.

In order to express ourselves we not only need to communicate from the heart, but we also need to be heard and seen authentically, in a heart-full way. Heartful listening requires vulnerability, courage, openness, and the capacity to enter the experience of another. It is built on care, respect, responsibility, and understanding. To speak our truth and have it heard deeply heals the lost heart, and fosters our liberation. Such is one reason that the Moses story must be told in ritual form over and over again. It must be told, and heard.

To find our freedom the inner voice of the heart needs to sing. Another central aspect of expression is creativity. When others hear the song in us, both creator and listener are transformed. We imbue the world with beauty and meaning.

Experiencing and expressing our emotions, effectively communicating with others, and creativity are essential for allowing our original natures to flower and thrive. It is part of how we lead our lives in the direction we choose. It is what takes us, as the Moses story tells us, to the Holy Mountain, where the divine words are given to us.

Like Moses, who was hidden as an infant because the Pharoah wanted to kill him, when we are hurt as children, we hide essential aspects of ourselves, or our hearts. Moses grew up not knowing his true identity. It was only when Moses discovered that he was a Hebrew, and uncovered who he really was, that he could live out his destiny as the liberator of his people. In order to be our true selves, we must all be Moses, and find out who we really are. We do this in one way through expression. Only when we follow this path of liberation can we fulfill our individual destinies, become what we are meant to be, and find our hearts.

After all, isn’t being able to express ourselves one of the cornerstones of freedom?


Dr. Glenn Berger is a psychotherapist, relationship counselor, business coach, artist’s coach, music producer, and young person’s mentor. To make an appointment, click here.

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  1. Such a great piece, Glenn!

    Thanks so much.

    Happy Passover!


  2. “Is the Lord among us or not?” I could not believe my ears. Those stiff-necked, redeemed people of God still didn’t get it. They did not realize that even though they were standing in the middle of the wilderness they were creating a whole other wilderness in their hearts by their lack of faith. And so I wrote it down for them to remember. Massah. Meribah. Test. Quarrel. Maybe it was for them. Or maybe I wrote it down because I did not want me to forget. Like I said, I’m a leader of God’s people and that’s a strange and hard place to be. Whether you’re leading one or a thousand, whether you are acknowledged as a leader or not (I’ve been in both places)—that place of leadership can be so difficult and so uncertain. And sometimes it can feel like you are in the middle of nowhere, and it’s even harder when the people you are with only make you feel more lost. So Rephidim was difficult. In the middle of nowhere, not sure what our next step should be… what do you do but cry out to God? What else could I do?