It’s Pesach again and that’s sort of OK

Amid the same old questions and insights, there are a few good 'aha' moments regarding dust, toothpaste and...repetition

It’s like a satire the way we go through the same holiday motions year after year.

We say the same things every year.

Everyone, remember! Dust isn’t chametz!

We ask the same questions every year.

Daddy, does toothpaste need a kosher for Passover stamp?

Like I haven’t asked my father that a million times before.

I find our holidays very fun, a nice change from day to day life, but it also begins to feel tedious. I often wonder why we need to observe the same holidays year after year.

Until I begin to have revelations regarding the holidays. Every year I understand the deeper ideas behind the holidays more and more and my new understandings can be carried over into our day to day lives – which are in themselves tightly bound by repetitiveness and the potential for mundane-ness.

Here are some of my latest lessons from Pesach this year:

Pesach cleaning and spring cleaning go together

People always talk about the fact that we don’t need to be cleaning dust for Pesach, only chametz.

But I really don’t think that it’s some wild coincidence that Pesach comes out exactly at the same time as spring cleaning.

Dust might not be chametz but once you’re turning your house upside down in the search for crumbs – and by the way it’s not actually necessary to get rid of crumbs under your couch either – of course you’re going to take the opportunity to rid it of winter’s dust as well.

Hashem, I think you forgot to clean all that dust off the roads for Pesach. (Photo by knox x)
Hashem, I think you forgot to clean all that dust off the roads for Pesach. (Photo by knox x)

Is the seder really for the children?

It’s either ironic or bad planning that the seder is supposedly made for the children (so that they will ask) and yet it starts late, there is a ton of text to get through and there is so much potential for deep discussions.

Maybe it’s a good opportunity to practice balancing between serving, cleaning, adult conversation and interacting with the children – something that constantly needs to be balanced in day to day life.

Also, the seder needs to fit people of all ages and everyone involved needs to be considerate of the others at the table in order to make sure not to “lose” anyone on the way. Another good thing to practice for life.

Why don’t we just tell the story of the exodus from Egypt?

In the Hagada we don’t just tell the story from beginning to end and we have all these extra weird details throughout. Why is that?

We are told that we should experience the exodus from Egypt as if it is happening now. This task is close to impossible if we were to just tell the story of the exodus since it’s one story that happened around 3,000 years ago. But what we actually do is read the stories that have happened and have been told throughout the 3,000 year since the original exodus, allowing us to tap into the idea that Jews for many centuries have studied the exodus and did their best to experience it as if it were happening right then.

This potentially helps us connect to more modern ideas relating to the exodus.

Matza – one of the oldest mitzvas

Eating matza is one of the very, very few positive mitzvas done by eating that is from the Torah (as opposed to it being from the rabbis). Do you know what the other obvious one is? OK, I’ll tell you – eating in the Sukkah on the first night of Sukkot.

That is old! And cool!

Would it really have been enough?

Then there is the song Dayenu (translation: it would have been enough). We are singing about the fact that we didn’t really need everything that God gave us.

Really? If we’d been brought to Mount Sinai but not given the Torah, it would have been enough? Ha!

har sinai
“Wow, a mountain.”

Of course in retrospect we “needed” all the gifts from God that are mentioned in the song Dayenu. But that’s only in retrospect.

I think this song teaches us the importance of appreciating what we have right now. When something comes our way, we can’t know what else might be coming later. We could think, “I also need a car/husband/hamburger/to lose five more pounds” and then it’ll be enough but we can’t know if we’re ever going to get those things and so the ideal would be to appreciate what we have been given in the present.

It must have been a really cool mountain.

But still, why so much repetition?

I still have a big question. The world is packed full of repetitive experiences. Not only do we go through repetitive experiences throughout our lives, but if you think about soul reincarnation, the same souls that we have today, have gone through the same repetitive experiences many times before. They are born as immature babies and they grow and mature, experiencing this world over and over and over again.

Repetition is such a major part of our existence – repeating days, weeks, holidays, etc. What is to be benefited from this amount of repetition?

And if I repeat the word repetition a few more times, will that help drive my point home?

Meanwhile, happy Pesach! And make sure not to eat any dust.


About the Author
Deena is a new mother, a project manager and a writer living in Jaffa.
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