Sunday, March 25, 2012
Pesach comes at just the right time of the year. I can't wait for a warm day so that I can throw open the windows and doors, welcome the sunlight and fresh air in, and really clean out my cabinets and the whole house. Chametz literally means the leavened food items that are forbidden on Pesach (specifically wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt), but to me there are so many spiritual connotations to chametz. Food made with these grains tends to "puff up" - to rise. Matzah is flat, without pretension. Chametz is all the stuff that "puffs up" our lives -- or in other words, clutter. This month offers a great chance to rid ourselves not just of the foodstuffs that are forbidden but also to clear out the chametz that fills our homes and our heads, the extraneous items and activities, the thoughts that don't need to be there and even perhaps an extra few personal pounds.
This phenomenon of spring cleaning is universal - it's not just restricted to Jews. And I know that just like preparing for Passover, it can be viewed as a chore, a dreadful activity that has to be done. Instead I think that we need to look at it as a part of our heritage passed down from generation to generation. From a different point of view we begin to understand how the search for Chametz applies to our lives both physically in our homes and psychologically within our spirits. As we prepare our homes for Passover so to do we prepare ourselves for the celebration of the freeing of our ancestors. Our Passover Haggadah reminds us “We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord freed us from Egypt with a mighty hand. Had not the Holy One, praised be God, delivered our people from Egypt, then we, our children, and our children’s children would still be enslaved.”
It is the same with us.
I know that I need this responsibility. I need to clear out some of the clutter in my life. I need to ask myself what I'm doing that I enjoy, and what things I'm doing that I want to cut out. There's such a sense of renewal at this time of year and I feel it both inside and out. We become a community again as my neighbors and my family start to spend time outdoors again. I feel so much freer leaving my coat at home and walking down the street. Passover is a holiday of freedom, celebrating the Exodus from Egypt. Celebrating freedom can also be a very personal thing as I free myself from the physical and spiritual clutter that has gathered.
What clutter has gathered in your life?
How will you begin to clear it out, both figuratively and actually?
What will you do to prepare for Pesach?
(Edited and reposted from a few years ago)
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