KJ Hannah Greenberg

Not (Having to) Turn Off Sticky Keys

Microsoft Windows created a feature that causes keys that are usable in tandem with other keys, such as SHIFT or CTRL, to stay “on.” This property can alleviate repetitive motion strain and can aid disabled users, people who might otherwise have trouble pressing two keys simultaneously.

It would be nice if we possessed an analogous trait to get us through our Passover preparations. Imagine being able to flick a switch and have tedious tasks complete themselves. Envision, in your mind’s eye, how helpful, even delightful, it would be to make half an effort for full results, or to receive, for a regular amount of effort, twice the outcome.

As agreeable as such ends would be, we cannot magic them. And yet, we can. Namely, while we’ll never be able to conjure invisible helpers, we can successfully impact other factors. To be more precise, we can have a bearing on our attitudes.

A famous Yiddishe countenance is “tracht gut vet zein gut,” “think good and it will be good.”

Time and again, Jews, as a people, or as individuals, have found ourselves challenged. Genocide’s been attempted. Plagues have happened. Exiles have taken place. Equally, dear ones have died, employment “growth opportunities” have occurred, relationships have been troublesome, health has declined, and so on. Most of these rigors make our contemporary Pesach aggravations seem relatively imperceptible. What’s more, elevated persons see “severities” as sent to enhance us.

On balance, most of us are not yet so high-minded. Particularly, we strain to say “gam zeh l’tova,” “this is also for the good,” or even “zeh l’tova,” “this is good.” Too often, our hearts protest what our brains attempt to fashion.

Sure, numerous sagacious folks have instructed us that emunah, faith, and bitachon, trust that is grounded in emunah, will keep us physically and emotionally strong, and will change our consequences for the better. Nonetheless, our test remains how to fortify our emunah in the first place.

Even our Pesach story is chockablock with broken convictions. Consider that roughly eighty per cent of us, of Bnai Yisrael, stayed in Egypt rather than attempt the Exodus, preferring known hardships to unknown ones. Likewise, at the Sea of Reeds, until Nachshon (Aaron’s brother-in-law) jumped into the sea and until Moshe raised his staff to split it, we believed we were trapped between watery depths and pharaoh’s advancing army. We’ve despaired.

Our modern lives might feel more mundane than the heroic span experienced by our forefathers, but the lessons bestowed upon us, through our trials and tribulations, are just as real as theirs. There’s no benefit in “Kosher for Passover” cake mixes, in three-dimensional representations (e.g., cotton balls for hail and “winged,” green-colored clothes pins for locusts) of the makkos, the plagues, or in fancy holiday garb, if our homes aren’t geared up for Passover. Somehow, all chametz in our possession must be discovered, burned, nullified, and sold if we are to properly celebrate the Zman Cherutenu, the Time of Our Freedom.

Regardless of whether our respective households choose to add some or all of spring cleaning to our mix, if we, ourselves, or our dwellings, lack adequate arrangements, we’re unfit for Chag haPesach. Accordingly, we work to commemorate our emancipation in concert with striving to keep ourselves on the Derech Eretz, behaving properly.

It seems as though we’re stymied when we fail to accept that exerting ourselves to ready our homes for Pesach benefits us, is a requirement gifted to us by our caring, compassionate G-d, or when we fail to accept that it’s within all of our means to execute necessary tasks. As long as we use the qualities granted to us concomitant with relying on the Aibishter for help, we’ll not only be okay, but we’ll be refined (our spiritual chametz, too, can be removed as we prime ourselves for the holiday.)

Sometimes, our growth comes from acknowledging the talents with which we’ve been presented. Those capacities can be physical (for example, the literal strength needed for oven cleaning), intellectual (shrewd individuals order meat and fish before Purim, before “holiday pricing” takes effect), psychological (many kindhearted householders send their teens, gratis, to “babysit” friends’ younger children, kids young enough to make crumbs faster than they can be cleaned up), and more.

Other times, our growth comes from acknowledging that The Boss remains steadfast in His relationship to us. He got us through Pesach arrangements last year, the year before that, five years before that, and thirty years before that (I’m a safta) despite COVD, births, snowstorms, food shortage, and so forth. We never were and never will be in control. This year, it might be our machatanistas’ turn with the marrieds. This year, we might have an injured leg, wrist, back or neck, which, in turn, requires us to shrink our egos and ask for/hire help. This year, we might shop too early or too late to get the exact toys that we deem the grandkids will accept as a trade for the afikoman.

Our limits don’t matter. When we can’t walk, we’re carried. When we can’t cry any more, we’re allotted wings to  soar. When we want to give up, we’re urged, instead, to rest, concurrent with being given supernal hugs.

Videlicet, we don’t have to turn off our sticky keys, per se. We just need to trust in G-d, to internalize that not only will we, somehow, again, finish getting ourselves and our abodes ready for Pesach in a timely manner, but that we’ll  forever continue to be His beloved children.

About the Author
KJ Hannah Greenberg has been playing with words for an awfully long time. Initially a rhetoric professor and a National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar, she shed her academic laurels to romp around with a prickle of imaginary hedgehogs. Thereafter, her writing has been nominated once for The Best of the Net in poetry, three times for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for poetry, once for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for fiction, once for the Million Writers Award for fiction, and once for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. To boot, Hannah’s had more than forty books published and has served as an editor for several literary journals.