Rabbi Aryel Nachman ben Chiam – 11 Nissan 5778
I got up this morning and realized that … I am getting old! Two weeks of Pesach cleaning has left he tired and every muscle aching.
As I dragged my body out of bed I think “First things first.”, dress, tallit, tefillin and shacharit, and then (maybe) I can face another day of lifting, pushing, pulling, washing and rearranging; right after coffee that is. And still, the Pesach dinner still has to be planned and prepared! OY, I can’t even think about that right now, it will have to wait.
While I am getting ready, taking out my siddur, tallit and tefillin, I am thinking about the cleaning and bewailing my situation, ok, kvetching about it! As I am checking my tzitziyot the phrase from the Haggadah pops into my head “… from slavery to freedom.” I put on the tallit and wrap the tefillin and as I am trying to concentrate on the prayers, it keeps buzzing around in my head “… from slavery to freedom.” OK, this is just getting annoying! I have prayers to do, a client meeting to conduct and then I have to get back to the drudgery of cleaning …. Ugh!
As I am reading the Akaida it suddenly it suddenly hits me! “… from slavery to freedom!”
For years I have made a point of telling people that they have to infuse the Pesach Seder with meaning, so that we can somehow experience what our ancestors experienced. Make the Seder come alive by telling the story of the Exodus, not to just drone on through the Haggadah.
So, back to cleaning. Why do we do it to ourselves every single year? All the mishegas of cleaning. We tear the whole house apart in order to clean out all the chametz, plan the meal, do the shopping, prepare the meal. We work ourselves like …….. SLAVES!
All these years I have been telling people to experience the Exodus when we have been doing it all along! We work ourselves to near exhaustion doing something we would not do if we didn’t have to, just like our ancestors:
“Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh store-cities, Pithom and Raamses.” (Shemot 1:11)
Weeks of cleaning, planning the seder, cooking the festive meal, working ourselves to the brink of collapse, and then, we finally get to sit with family and friends and enjoy the Pesach Seder. We have literally gone “… from slavery to freedom!”
After 62 years on earth, I finally get it (never too late and never too old!). Pesach cleaning has now taken on a whole new meaning. I still don’t like it, but I now get it! How amazing is HaShem!
“Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for in haste didst thou come forth out of the land of Egypt; that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life.” (Devarim 16:3)
And how better to remember then by experiencing, in some small measure, what our ancestors lived through by purging our homes.
“ And there shall be no leaven seen with thee in all they borders seven days;…”
Now, if you will excuse me, I have to get back to cleaning (Ugh!).
To you and your family, Chag Pesach Kasher Vesame’ach !