On the first night of Pesach it is incumbent upon each and every Jew according to our practice to view ourselves as if we left the bondage of Egypt. Many find this a difficult task in today’s day and age. Most Jews are free, enjoy many liberties and are prospering. Millions of us even sit in the promised land on this very night! It is a far cry from the days of old when we were bitterly enslaved, beaten and desperate at the hands of the Egyptians.

As a matter of fact many Jews feel free on other days of the year, but oppressed due to the arrival Pesach. We spend countless hours cleaning and preparing for this holiday. The laws are stringent and weighty and can turn the most easy going person into an obsessive compulsive neurotic. So much so that it has become a tired old joke that by the time Pesach rolls around we actually truly know what it is like to be enslaved.

First, we have to use up all our food which is such an arduous task for us food hoarders that are in habit of stock piling so much food that we need to start whittling down weeks in advance. Then, we complain as we spring clean through all of our overabundant possessions having to toss or give away bags of stuff we didn’t even know we have. We then need to buy all new food, kosher our kitchens, clean our cars and prepare many festive meals, which is tricky for we are limited in the ingredients we are permitted to use. Especially those poor Ashkenazim with the prohibition of kitniot and oy va avoy if you can’t eat gebrochts! I mean one could almost starve to death….or so you would think by the way people talk.

When I hear people complain about these things and how difficult it is to observe Pesach it frustrates me. We are so spoiled and dependent on our leavened lives. We have become enslaved to our food, our stuff, our chaos and disorder.

The Seder night is freedom from all that. It is a night when we are free from all the unnecessary excess in our lives. We sit with our families and focus on our children, explaining to them our history and all that is of real value. We experience the transition from slavery to freedom at our Seder while praising G-d for delivering us out of  Egypt. Our enslavement  was not just physical, but mental as well. Egypt symbolized wealth and abundance with no reliance of G-d; instead they worshiped their wealth and material possessions. Our reliance on material goods and financial security has become the god of many. All too often we forget who we are and Who runs the show. We are enslaved to our stuff and we don’t even realize it. Pesach comes and reminds us what our lives are all about and what our freedom is for. Families come together and invite the poor and needy. Everyone unites for one warm loving night, we know who we are, what is important and what has real value and meaning.

We are free. Free to speak and tell our children that life without purpose, dedication and devotion to something bigger is not life at all. We must always remember what it is like to be enslaved and we need to talk about it so that we never lose focus of our purpose; for even the rich and noble can be slaves if they are attached to their possessions and are enslaved by their desires.

I am grateful to free myself, if for only a short holiday, of all the stuff that unwittingly weighs me down. I feel connected as I sit with my family, simultaneously with millions of my people, psychologically freeing ourselves of the bonds of slavery on the very same night we did it together as a nation thousands of years ago.