With Purim in the rearview mirror and Passover only two weeks away, many Jewish homes are focused on cleaning, preparations, and all that comes with it. While engrossed in the routines of the time, let’s not lose track of the special opportunities this time has to offer.
The underlying theme of Passover is freedom. In order to kick-start collective Jewish peoplehood, freedom was a prerequisite. So during this time, it is imperative that we zero in on the freedoms in our lives – or lacks thereof – in order to reach within ourselves and “kick-start” our lives into high gear.
How do we do this practically? How do we actually make the move to personal freedom?
30 DAYS TO A NEW LIFE
According to Jewish wisdom, an old habit is broken and a new habit is formed when a person makes a change for 30 consecutive days. If an individual commits to doing something different and then follows up on it one day at a time for 30 days, he will have freed himself from the grasp of the past and established a real path to a new future.
Freedom is not just doing whatever I feel like, not letting anything get in my way. That’s living like an unbridled animal. After seventy years of living like that, what strength of character have I exhibited in the world? Where have I truly stepped up to the plate and applied myself? Where is the assertion of the “I”? The true self has been enslaved by his baser desires.
On the other hand, the Sages teach: “Who is the strong person? The one who conquers his inclinations” (Ethics of the Fathers, 4:1). True freedom comes from rising above your lower self, making the hard-earned choice to live according to the dictates of your soul. Building your inner strength of character and making genuine choice to do good is the truest model of freedom.
This week begins the Hebrew month of Nissan, the month that is best known by its holiday of freedom – the holiday of Passover. Let’s embrace the opportunity at this time by taking upon ourselves one thing to “pass over” this month – to free ourselves from one negative habit or to take upon ourselves one positive habit. Whether it’s quitting smoking, foregoing junk food, not hitting the snooze button, or speaking to people with a quiet tone, getting in a daily workout, designating a set time for spiritual development, let’s make one move to take conscious control of our lives and take a step closer to being the person we want to be.
If we can zero in on just one thing and follow up on it uncompromisingly for the next 30 days, we will be different people in a month from now. I invite readers to leave a comment below with what s/he is taking on, and to revisit this article to share how it’s going. When we do this together, we feel we are not in it alone and we build a support group of sorts.
May we be blessed to encourage each other and to celebrate together “Pass-Over”!
Rabbi Eliyahu Yaakov’s new book “The Case for Judaism” was released today and can be previewed and purchased on Amazon here.