How do we do it? Every year we turn a festival of wonders into a combination of cleaning, clearing and captivity. We almost forget to breathe as we run around sorting our houses, doing our grocery shopping and planning our menus. With this stress in preparation, we can easily overlook the appreciation for the more important things in our lives.
So let’s take some tips from the experts to keep things simple.
We all know that Sarah was childless for many years however she never lost her faith in G-d. Along with her husband, she was a gracious hostess and taught us that we should always welcome guests into our homes. More importantly, when she had Isaac, she became the mother of our nation.
So this lesson is for all for the mothers out there trying to do it all. Stop worrying. You are already doing it all. Please remember that we want our children to have positive memories of Pesach. By watching you fulfilling the mitzvot and enjoying the festival, they are learning lessons that are just as important as anything else. Not forgetting of course, that they can help with all of the preparation too, that’s also part of the lesson.
We first meet Rivka at the well. She not only gives water to the stranger (Eliezer) but also immediately runs to fulfil the mitzvah of tsa’ar ba’aleh chaim, kindness to animals, as she makes sure to water his camels. Rivka comes from an interesting background however. We are taught that despite living in a place of greed and materialism, by her virtues, she was chosen to continue our Jewish nation, as a wife for Isaac and the mother of Yaakov.
From Rivka we learn kindness, so ladies, be kind to yourselves, and men, be kind to your wives. Pesach is a wonderful festival but it carries a lot of work with it. Be compassionate, help each other and look after yourselves.
Rachel teaches us one of the most important lessons of all, especially at a time like Pesach when families tend to come together.
“Entanglements of G-d, I was entangled with my sister and I prevailed”.
What does that mean? We are given these complicated relationships in our lives, often with our families, so we can learn and grow from them. Over Pesach, and at the Seder Table, we can take our lesson from Rachel and work with our family.
The story of Rachel reminds us that everyone has difficult relationships, whether with our families or our friends. Judaism also teaches that we can learn from everyone and if Rachel taught us that she learned to prevail over her relationship with her sister, can we do any less?
It is one thing to be grateful when everything is wonderful, when all of our dreams have come true. But it is quite another to be grateful when life is complicated. Leah is the first person to feel and express gratitude, even and especially amid profound sorrow and enduring disappointment.
Love is a basic human desire, we desire to be loved. In Leah’s case, it was the love of her husband. Leah somehow found the courage to accept that her life was not going to turn out as she had hoped. After spending years hoping for the love of her husband, something inside of her shifted, and rather than sinking in the sorrow of what she did not have, she was able to embrace the beauty and appreciate what she did have.
Pesach is a wonderful time. We learn to do without the things we take for granted on a daily basis – like bread. However from Leah we learn that we can find our way to gratitude without having everything we want or even need.
So as we do our shopping and cleaning, and worry about everything that we have to do, lets take a minute to think about our four mothers and what they teach us.
- You are enough and you do enough.
- Be kind to yourselves and each other.
- Relationships with family and friends can be hard.
- Appreciate what you have.
Chag Pesach Sameach!