4. Pesach Preparation (for the soul)!
Hello everyone! Pesach is quickly approaching and many of us are spending most of our spare time doing preparations. Despite all of the hectic-ness, I would like take some time to share some ideas I’ve been thinking about. Learning about and discovering some of these concepts has really helped me make the preparations more meaningful, and I hope they do the same for you!
For every physical action we do, there are many things that are happening spiritually that we might not be able to perceive. There are infinite layers of meaning to all the mitzvot that we perform! These actions are gateways to personal growth, and knowing the opportunities that come with each action is crucial to getting as much as we can from them. Imagine the ridiculousness of someone saying, “I love you” without knowing what the words mean, or without knowing who he/she is saying it to. The same goes for doing mitzvot without kavanah (intention). An empty action is nothing but a shell. I find that Pesach preparations can easily become mundane and make us panic with everything we want to get done. It’s so easy to lose sight of why we are doing these preparations, which is why it’s so important to learn about the kavanot we should have while doing them. I hope some of these ideas will help all of us discover new layers of depth. If you decide to try them out, I would love to hear how it goes!
The celebration of Pesach is not only about commemorating something that happened in the past. I mean, what’s the point in doing that? What is the point of remembering something if it’s not applicable to our lives today? (These are questions that a child would ask… and it’s actually how we start the seder!) Pesach is not just about remembering what happened and being thankful (although that is important). The liberation from slavery that took place thousands of years ago is something that happens every year. Yes, it is something that is happening right NOW. The very energy that liberated our ancestors from Egypt is currently available to us! We have the incredible power to let go of the various things that we are enslaved to. Here are some ways to tap into this potential:
We all have things that we are enslaved to that we wish we could let go of. Usually we have trouble letting go of them, even though we know that our lives would be happier if we did. Take some time to think about what they are. Is it a habit? A mood that you find yourself slipping into? Is it a craving that you want to get rid of? Is it an attitude? A bias? A compulsion?
Also take some time to think about the things that mankind is enslaved to. What are the problems plauging the world today? What is holding your community back? Take some time to consider materialism, greed, selfishness, denial, lack of education, disconnection, etc.
While cleaning the house of chametz –
This is the time for us to be real with ourselves. We spend so much of our lives building up or beating ourselves down. We all have a certain “image” that we want to portray. Cleaning our houses is the best time to break down these illusions and look for what’s really beneath. While we clear our houses of all the extra accumulation and dust, we are forced to take an honest look at the physical space that we live in. Use this time to take an honest look at your spiritual self as well. Who are you, really? Examine the things that you hide from… the dust, the grime. Don’t avert your eyes. Take a look at all the extra stuff you’ve accumulated, the stuff that you’re afraid to let go of, even though you know you need to. Scrub hard, move the heavy stuff around…
Think about your family, your friends and your community. What are the things that are preventing communal growth? What are the issues that are holding relationships back? What are the things that we are enslaved to?
During the bedikah (the final check) –
The world today is a dark and confusing place. Use the darkness of the room and the light of the candle to think about your own inner and outer world. Be brave and face those dark corners that you would prefer to ignore. You have already done the work of cleaning your house of physical chametz and discovering your personal chametz. You are aware of the things that are holding you back from reaching your infinite potential. Now is the time to figure out the true reasons why these things are there in the first place. Use the darkness to search out those reasons… the roots. With each piece of chametz that you find, imagine yourself pulling out those personal roots and gathering them up. Search the crevices of your soul and shed light on the things that you are hiding from yourself. Now think about your family, your friends and your community. What are the deeper reasons why we are enslaved? Dig for those roots as well, and put them all in a mental bag.
After you are done the bedikah, you will have a bag with your pieces of chametz. You should also have a mental bag of the things that you want to be released from and what their causes are. Take a piece of paper and write these things down. For yourself personally and for the world around you. It only needs to be a few key words. Put this piece of paper in the bag with your chametz.
Burning the chametz –
This is the time for you to let go and get rid of all those things you have identified. As your chametz burns, allow the infinite (Gd) to release you from your slavery. The only thing you need to do is WANT to let go of them. Make that opening. Free yourself. Let go. You must want it with every fiber of your being. Use the smell and sight of the fire to burn away your spiritual chametz. Ask the divine to help you.
Walk away from the fire and into your clean home. Enter the seder as a soul who has let go…and allow yourself to be lifted and freed.
Wishing everyone a wonderful, liberating Pesach!
(If there are any concepts written about here that need expanding, please let me know and I’d be glad to answer and clarify.)