Rachael’s Thoughts as Pesach Approaches

Pesach is now two and a half weeks away, and our thoughts move back and forth between the cleaning and all the Seder arrangements that need to happen.  The cleaning is pretty routine, usually we do the same thing each year because it worked – no one looks for meaning in cleaning the house. Meaningfulness starts to appear when we need to get rid of our chametz. But, the Seders are a different story.  

The symbols on our Seder tables are the same every year, but they are intended to speak to us of a framework from which we can explore new perspectives.  These same symbols not only speak to us, they also speak to each other. 

We deliberately create a structure of opposites, and then we ritually experience them.  On our tables we see and taste the bitter and the sweet; we notice symbols of slavery and freedom; we speak of moments of despair and hope.  We have done this for so many years we run the risk of creating empty routines.  Our focus shifts from thinking about opposites to thinking linearly: start with making a Bracha…dip something in something else…eat it…turn the page…rinse and repeat…wait for the real food. 

But everything that sits on our Seder table invites us to find ourselves within a world of structured oppositions.  Between the bitter and the sweet, where am I – between feeling enslaved or feeling free, where would I put myself, when are there enough bad days that I start to feel despair, where is the hopeful moment? 

Pesach is not a celebration of Jewish history. Pesach is the realization that I always sit inside historic Jewish moments that have passed, as they blend with moments that are, to help me see a future that could be. 

I’d like to wish everyone a sweet and peaceful Shabbat —our Jewish time to regroup, rest, and reinvigorate. 

Shabbat shalom,