Well, folks. Passover is upon us. The cooking is done. All that’s left for me to do after work today is assemble the eggplant-tomato casserole at my ex’s and to help him set the table. And to hang on tight as I head into eight days of not eating out, not eating grains, not eating beans or corn or anything with those ingredients, and eight days of feeling a part of a tradition stretching back thousands of years.
Tonight at sundown we begin the celebration of the freedom that should be a human right: to be allowed to eat where and how and when you want, to not be a slave to someone else’s desires or needs, to not forget what it means to be imprisoned simply because you are not enslaved today.
For many Jews, Passover is a beloved holiday. The proscriptions for observance are centered in the home. The Seders involve singing and discussion and this communal meal that echoes ancient order. And as much as many of us complain about matzah making our tummies hurt, there is a familiarity to this holiday of complaining and kvetching about the Bread of Affliction that I cannot distance myself from.
Here is my ex and my sons searching for hametz last night with a candle and a feather.
What do we find when we look into the most hidden of places, in the narrowest of places (the word for Egypt is mitzrayim, which literally means “the narrows”)?
What is lurking that we can actively seek out and see banished this year?
What do we discover when we get on our hands and knees and shine a light in the darkest of corners?
Sometimes we find darkness. But from that darkness, just as God did, sometimes we can make light. That’s what it means to be a partner in Creation: to continually find new ways to make light where before there was darkness.
Chag pesach kasher v’sameach. May the Festival of Freedom free the parts of you that are dark, and may this Festival make all of those parts blindingly Divinely and unmistakably bright.