Passover will soon be upon us. Spring in Chicago is a time not only for spring cleaning, but also a time for renewal and reflection.
As part of the ceremony of Spring, we have our Festival holiday of Pesach (Passover) when we traditionally rid our cabinets of Chametz (leavened wheat and bread products) and spiritually look at where our egos have risen. We reflect on how we are doing in our lives. There’s no mistake that Passover falls six months prior to the High Holidays, giving us a “mid-term” opportunity to reflect on how we’re faring as the year progresses.
Passover is also a time for family renewal. At our Passover seder we see loved ones we haven’t seen in a while. Not only do we retell the story of the Israelites’ Exodus, but we also recall our own family stories of our loved one’s antics in the past. We teach our children about their family’s history, share jokes and anecdotes, and encourage kids to ask questionsnot only the Four Questions, but also questions about their family heritage.
It’s a time for us to retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt, where God took the Jewish people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, leading Jews from slavery to freedom. And we remember that if there is anyone in the world who is still in bondage, then we too are still not completely free. It gives us an opportunity to reflect on how we can do better to work for justice in the coming year.
In order to prepare for Passover, it is customary to do a thorough spring cleaning. Passover is a home-based holiday, with food as the central focus. Not only did the Israelites have to make a sacrificial offering prior to leaving Egypt, but they also did not have time to let their bread rise, thereby creating\ the well-loved food – matzah. So, Jewish law requires us to rid our homes of any leavening and make it “kosher” to celebrate the holiday.
If you are considering cleaning out your pantry for Passover, please consider donating any food products that are unopened and not expired to your local food pantry. It is a wonderful opportunity to both satisfy the mitzvah of ridding your house of chametz and stay mindful of those who suffer from food insecurity. I wish you and your family a Zissen Pesach – a Happy Passover holiday filled with family, love, health, joyful anticipation and abundance.