I have a confession to make, something I'm embarrassed to admit. I've always loved Passover. (This is not the embarrassing confession, though some may view it that way!) I like the cleaning, the organizing, the cooking, the family time, the Seder.
I've always loved the physical preparation and the spiritual preparation – the physical experience of slavery and leaving Egypt, and the spiritual experience of slavery and leaving Egypt.
The problem is that in the last few years my priorities have gotten turned upside down I spend a lot of time on the cleaning, grocery shopping, clothes shopping for my children, menu planning, cooking – and the Seder winds up getting short shrift.
I'm either too tired or too distracted (What time should I put the brisket in the oven? Is one of the grandchildren upstairs crying? Yes, dear, your new top looks beautiful) to pay attention to what's happening at the table.
Actually that's not quite true. I notice who's involved and who's bored, who wants to discuss more ideas and who just wants to eat, who wants a long Seder and who wants to go to sleep, who just pinched their sister and who is whispering to her husband. But I'm missing the main event.
I'm missing the new questions and the new ideas. I'm missing new opportunities to grow and learn. I'm missing new insights and new direction. I'm missing the point.
So I have to re-orient myself. It's not that I need to recapture a perspective I had in the past. I have to find a new one. I still have to take all my responsibilities and preparations seriously – but midst these pressures, I need to forge a new way, a new focus.
Our family dynamics are constantly changing. Our energy level (!) is constantly changing. And the type of knowledge and insight that we find stimulating and thought-provoking is constantly changing.
So my Seder – and my perspective – needs to reflect this new reality.
I like to buy one new Haggadah each year just to jump-start the growth process. This year I plan to actually read it!
And I hope to achieve some modicum of freedom through acting on this new understanding. I still have to clean and cook, to shop and prepare. There will still be distractions and family needs, some trivial and some important. But I hope to rearrange my priorities so that the purpose of the holiday doesn't get lost. Perhaps that's what freedom means after all.