Believe it or not, I have always found Passover to be one of the most inspired holidays when it comes to making connections between Jewish living and mental and spiritual well-being. Although we all know that Rosh Hashanah is considered the Jewish New Year, the truth is that Nissan, and for that matter Passover, are truly the start of the spiritual new year. On Rosh Hashanah we celebrate our physical creation and existence, and on Passover we are given the opportunity to reflect upon and celebrate our spiritual creation and existence. This concept is particularly deep and meaningful, yet subtle.
At first glance, it would seem Passover is very much about the physical—deep cleaning, so much food to purchase and prepare, table to set, clothes to buy, business to get in order. Yet underneath it all what it is really all about? From the standpoint of cleansing, re-birthing and nourishing our souls, there are some amazing opportunities waiting for us in the coming weeks that should simply not be missed.
Let’s take the cleaning for example. We are commanded to remove “chametz” from our lives and our dwelling places. We must scrutinize every corner of our homes by candlelight ensuring a thorough and detailed search for any last crumbs. But what is chametz? What does it represent? We learn in the Jewish texts that chametz is much more than just the physical element of bread or wheat. Chametz represents that within us that is darker—thoughts, emotions, behaviors—that hold us back from revealing our greatest Light. The cleaning of our homes is more symbolic and a tool through which to find the strength and platform to explore ourselves on a more profound level. We are not meant simply to physically clean, but to clean our psyche as well. To review our nature and decide what stays and what is chametz to our soul. As diligent as we are with scrubbing the oven, so must we be diligent in examining our intentions and our desire to improve as human beings. Yes, it is hard work. There is nothing easy about being an observant Jew. However the rewards are great and usually surpass the investment of time and energy.
I’ll share with you a funny, personal story. I was speaking on the phone one day with my husband’s ex-wife (yes, she is lovely, and yes, we get along well). We were making plans for how to share the days of Passover with my husband’s children and we got to talking about the holiday of Passover itself. At one point in the conversation we were laughing and she jokingly said, “Well, I got rid of my chametz a long time ago!” making a clear reference to my current husband . . . at which point I burst out laughing and replied, “You see?? One woman’s chametz is another woman’s matzah!” We laughed hysterically for a couple minutes but the point of this story is important: we each have our own spiritual chametz—what is bad for one person may be quite wonderful for the other—and this is why the work of Passover is so personal and so important. No one can do this spiritual soul searching for you. You may be able to hire someone to clean your home, but no one other than YOU can clean your heart and soul. And, by the way, for all of those fortunate enough to do a Passover vacation experience, you can run from the cleaning but you can’t hide from yourself! So, no matter what your plans are for this holiday, take advantage of the beautiful opportunity you have to create a new, shinier you. Remove those blockages that hold you back. Be real and honest with yourself. Decide today that the status quo is never enough and that being a spiritual human being requires dedication to constant self-improvement.
So much of our happiness and personal fulfillment rests in our own hands. Wishing everyone a blessed Passover holiday, chag sameach v’kasher
By: Mia adler Ozair, Ma, lPCC, NCC