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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
It all looks so normal

I went shopping this morning, to avoid the inevitable crowds of people trying to restock after Pesach. I only bought what I would need for Shabbat, figuring I could get other things later.

I still don't crave chometz. I do crave kitniyot, but I now have rice and whole wheat bread and pita bread, and diet soda. I also have Israeli salad and macaroni salad and it's just. Normal. Normal is good.

My table has its year-round stuff on it - the "silver" tray, the challah board, the arty candlesticks, the challah cover, the year round place mats. The bare wood shining through.

My rabbi's talk on Thursday was about how Pesach puts you on a higher spiritual level, and what that means. At the time (I was sleepy and I was in shul mainly to say yizkor, memorial prayers, for my father, so my mood was questionable), I thought that maybe this year, not so much.

But. Now I wonder.

Before Pesach, you clean. Even people who go away for the whole time, to parents or to hotels, clean. They may not change over or kasher their kitchen, but they clean. (At least most of them do.) And what happens when you clean? You find things. You find things you forgot or that you thought you lost forever, or that you didn't look for because you knew you would find it now. And when you do that, you discover things about your self (Did I really like that book so much? Then why hadn't I missed it? Why didn't I pay that bill? Oh - I like that thing mom gave me after all!) And you do that internally, too, even if you don't want to. You're cleaning out the chometz of your mind, in a way, because as you decide to keep or to discard things as you go through your house, you also decide what's important to you right now - and maybe you need to change that, or explore that.

Pesach itself is a time of difference - almost a separate time and place. It has things that only exist here - dishes, utensils, foods, customs - and being someplace different, even if it's just lighting different candlesticks, shakes you up and makes you think. It's even more so if you're back at your parents or in a hotel - you're not the same person because who you are is, in part, a function of where you are. Things that were reflex - reach into this cabinent, use this tool, that cooking technique, the other bencher - are gone. You have to *think* about everything. You have to be different - mindful.

And just as you're getting used to having your dishes in the food cupboard and your milchig silverware next to the fleishigs because you only wanted to clean out one drawer and anyway, they're both visually and tactilily different, you have to change back. You have to unstick the foil and put the dishes back in their boxes and make sure you haven't forgotten any silverware and get your chometz out of hiding. Or maybe you have to pack up your clothes and kiss your parents goodbye, but it's still all "back to normal."

And it's all familiar again - you're home again. But once you leave home, even if it's just for a weekend, you change. And you have to relearn things to make them instinct again. So, maybe I am a different person than I was 9 days ago - maybe it is on a higher level.

And I know I'll get familiar and complacent , and next year I'll have to shake it all up and change it around and become different, if only for a week.


One of the things I love best about this holiday is the way the physical mirrors the metaphysical. We do things externally and they have an internal impact.

I think one has to be open to the internal changes. Cleansing the house of physical chametz doesn't necessarily cleanse one's being of internal chametz, unless one is open to it doing so. Otherwise, it's just cleaning the counters and throwing out the grain products -- if it's done mindlessly, I don't think it has the capacity to work magic. But if it's done mindfully, with an open mind and heart, there's so much possibility for transformation here.

And I think the temporariness of our transformation is okay. For me, the effects of Pesach are usually wearing off just in time for Elul and the Yamim Nora'im, which shake me up and get me attuned again...

I disagree - this is the sort of thing that happens of itself, because one is doing the cleaning - that's when you find things and then have the new kitchen and then return to the old. Being mindful might help - or it might not, because part of the whole transformation is, I think, being surprised at what one finds.

It's a very materialist way of thinking, I know, but Pesach is so tiring that the physical may be the best way for it to work. Also - actions are the way to get to the spiritual level. And I do tend to think on a physical, hands-on way.

And even if you are right - that one needs the proper kavvanah to get things done spiritually - it's still not going to happen at all unless the physical stuff is done. That is, maybe I should be thinking about clearing away spiritual chometz, but if I don't clean away the physical chometz, nothing's going to happen.

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

Thank you!