Now that Purim has come and gone, this is a loving reminder to myself and to everyone who celebrates Pesach:
Passover preparations — in all their time-consuming, expensive, and exhausting forms — are not a competitive sport. No matter when each of us gets the process underway, we all win by getting to eat the same matzah, whether that’s the prize you had in mind or not.
A tablescape is not d’oraysa. You can make the same menu your bubbe made 80 years ago or that you prepared last year. Don’t feel pressure to try fancy new recipes if you aren’t up to it or it just isn’t your jam. A one-course meal is fine; so is takeout. We’re all stuffed after korech anyway. Grapes make a refreshing dessert. Do the best you can and be kind to yourself.
If you feel the countdowns to Pesach are the devil, unsubscribe, unfollow, delete, don’t look.
Chametz, not dust, reminds us of the spiritual depths to which we sank in Egypt as a people in bondage. Pharoah enslaved our bodies, but the undoing of our souls was of our own making. Until we sweep away the leavening within ourselves, we remain in chains. More important to focus on that, and on prayers for peace and healing for those who have been uprooted this season, than on reorganizing the linen closet. Spring cleaning can come in July. Or never.
There is plenty to do, but it will get done. Somehow, it always does. Our homes will be clean, the shopping bags piled up in the living room, the soup bubbling on the foil-covered burner, the maror ground in time for seder. This will all come to be whenever we decide to turn over our kitchens, however much we complain about it, whether we have the ability to fill the freezer with briskets and mandelbread weeks ahead of time or if we pull ours out of the oven hours, or minutes, before candle-lighting.
Let’s not lose sight of our wellbeing, mental and physical, in the process, or sweep the opportunity for personal and communal renewal out the door with the crumbs we will inevitably discover behind the couch.
Passover is a wonderful, 8-day (or 7) holiday of freedom. This year, let’s not become enslaved to our preparations.