I need to change my mindset about Passover. Leading up to this festival, which of course begins tonight, I have made the mistake of engaging in too much narrow thinking: about getting rid of chameitz (leavened products); of worrying if there would be enough matzah on hand for the week; of busying myself with planning and organizing Seders. I have focused too much on constricted matters, rather than being open to the far more expansive and joyful aspects of Pesach.
Yes, Passover is a serious holiday. At our Seder table we recount the harrowing tale of our people’s liberation from Egypt. A proper Seder needs order and structure so that meaningful questions can be asked. Throughout the week of Passover we eat unleavened bread, identifying with the poverty of our ancestors and the haste in which they fled slavery.
Yet Passover is also a festival of rejoicing. It is a time for celebrating with family and friends. Our Seders should be filled with music and singing and laughter. It is a time to kvell as our children chant the four questions. Pesach is a time for feasting and drinking; conversation and community; knowledge and perhaps even wisdom.
Passover also is a time of renewal. Pesach always arrives near the beginning of spring. In fact, one of the official names for this holiday is Chag HaAviv: the Festival of Spring. So let there be flowers on your table; parsley on your Seder plate; and may renewed hope blossom in your heart.
Robert Frost’s poem, “A Prayer in Spring,” speaks to the beauty of this season.
“Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.
And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.
For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.”
I wish you Chag Pesach Sameach – a joyful and meaningful Passover.