Pesach has been on my mind, for various reasons. All the cleaning that needs to be done (no, I'm not going crazy, just doing the minimum necessary, but my car DOES need to be cleaned), and making arrangements for meals and accommodations. I know I have it super-easy, because I won't be hosting anyone and I'm actually going to be taking advantage of the very kind hospitality of others. I'm also really excited about Pesach because I'm heading down to Baltimore to see all my friends there that I miss so much. And I managed to tack on a few extra days to beginning of my trip, so I'll be spending six days there getting to see everyone. I really can't wait; it's been WAY too long since my last visit (almost six months!).
With all this Pesach preparation, I’ve been trying to think about the meaning of the holiday as well. Pesach is about freedom. It's interesting to me that this freedom from the bondage of slavery in Egypt leads to the yoke of Torah. That the very holiday in which we celebrate our release from the hardship of forced labor is commemorated by even more rules and restrictions than we typically follow. That we talk about the horrible work that we are released from during this time, only to have prepared for the holiday by cleaning and scrubbing and laboring and cooking.
I think what I have to learn from this is that we are all held captive by our personal demons, our self-induced bondage. And it takes hard work and sometimes other rules in order to free us from those demons. And I think this hard work is different for each person. As an aspiring therapist and someone who has tried to take a hard, honest look at myself, I definitely see how our own issues hold us back and keep us from achieving our potential. There is no magic wand to wave that will take those chains away - it takes the cleaning out, the scouring and the elbow grease to make us sparkly and clean, to let us shine. And that shine is maintained by rules and restrictions that don't allow us to fall back into old, bad habits. It's constant work, rather than careless and carefree floating.
Are the rules the same for each person? Do they come in a one-size-fits-all easy handbook? Unfortunately, no. Each person has to find and write their own rulebook in many ways, as each of us has our own challenges. Yes, you could argue that everyone has the same basic set of rules to follow, but the personal is in the details - as each of us is different and unique, our work and rules and ultimately, freedom, will be a slightly different version.
This Pesach, I'm going to be looking for my freedom and writing my rulebook and detailing the work I have cut out for me. Have a wonderful Pesach!