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  • Writer's pictureAnat Ishai

Haven't we been preparing for Passover for over a year?

In the beginning of it all, we as the world were in it together! We stayed home, we brought out the board games, we binged watched on Netflix. We ordered alcohol and chocolate and maybe even enjoyed a bit of the initial time out (excluding those with young kids of course). Then came the reality, this isn't going away. The anxiety started to build, we evaluated our financial position. Could we weather this storm if our jobs were compromised? How many devices did we have in the house? Could the kids manage independently with online learning (the answer was evidently NO!).

Spring turned into summer and the sun came out, we enjoyed backyard and patio gatherings. We turned to nature walks and lake excursions, a beach picnic or a mountain bike ride. We took a road trip and visited new landmarks. This isn't so bad we told ourselves. Then fall came, and then winter came once more. Another lockdown, another rollercoaster ride of uncertainty. When will I see my parents again? Will the grandparents get to hug their grandchildren once more?

Now we are approaching Passover, and the feeling of "spring cleaning" is lingering in the air. But haven't we been pruning, shedding, giving away and disposing of things all year long? There is a sense that we've all been evaluating our circumstances and choices. Is that person still someone I consider a friend? Have I really been honest about what I was allowing into my life that was holding me back? Do I really need to purchase more things for my home? Have I really been investing time with the people I love? Have I just been afraid to pursue my dreams all along?

These weren't just questions looming in air, they were real thoughts and feelings happening inside everyone's homes. And for many of us, those thoughts turned into action. Many changed their places of work, started businesses, got rid of toxic relationships or mending old wounds with parents and children. We got rid of stuff in our house taking up space and replaced with office space that would inspire our work. We invested in personal development courses, filtered out mainstream news for independent sources. We have been preparing for the theme of Passover for a whole year without realizing it. We may not have even known what we were manifesting.

The theme of Passover is Freedom! But we must ask of ourselves. Is it freedom from? or freedom to? Is it leaving that job just to have more time? Or is the time we gain going to be used to move us toward something greater? Did we get rid of things or people to make space for the sake of space? Or did we make those choices to make room for new things or people? The Torah says, “Let My people go, so that they may serve Me” (Exod. 8:1). The Jewish definition of freedom is not about license or choice, but to utilize free will to reach our full potential. We read in the Haggadah that G-d wanted us free from bondage and captivity not for the sake of being free, but for the sake of serving a higher power. Our release from Egypt was to move us closer to a shared and collective destiny, which can only be achieved when we all rise to reach our full potential. Each of us are responsible for ourselves and the collective unit.

As we approach Passover, we are not starting at square one, we've climbed, we've toiled, we've assessed, we have subconsciously gone through the spiritual exercise of removing the things weighing us down. Frankly, we've experienced a year of Passover preparations. It was once said, watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become your actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. If we examine the last year, if we truly sit with our reality we may just realize that we are on our way to freedom. But the choice is ours! is it freedom to? or freedom from? That choice rests with you, and you alone.

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