Studying in a bakery presents it’s challenges when Passover arrives. While most patrons have cupcakes, pie slices, baguettes and cookies, I find myself with an orange.
This may at first seem a sad picture. People around me are enjoying their freshly toasted paninis. Their fingers wipe frosting off a cake that I am forbidden from eating. However, this is not the full picture. What the eye does not see is the positive in this situation.
Avoiding the foods that are forbidden on Passover has proved to be a blessing. I do not say this because it is Judaism’s version of an 8 day South Beach diet. I say this because it necessitates awareness. The time it takes to choose what to eat gives me a new appreciation for what I put in my body. I may not be able to indulge in the traditional bakery fare, but that first bite of orange was one of the best first bites of an orange I have ever had.
We are all slaves to our schedules. Slaves to our own autopilot abilities. We walk to our locations without noticing the sights in between. We finish our meals without taking notice of every bite. We have conversations and can only remember the endings. This all changes over Passover. Passover gives us the opportunity to release ourselves from unawareness and shed our shackles of habitual unconsciousness.
Thinking twice about ordering food is an act rarely practiced. Receiving that food and learning to appreciate it regardless of it’s lack of Chametz is neglected on all other days but these.
So the ancient question arises once again: why is this night unlike all other nights? Or, rather, why is this week so different than all other weeks? This week is different because it gives us the opportunity to step back and appreciate the process. It realizes the necessity in paying attention to your surroundings and noticing the little things, not just getting to the last orange slice. It releases us from our slavery to unconsciousness, it brings a new meaning to everything we do, and while we may lose the opportunity to enjoy a pastry, we gain the opportunity to enjoy much more.