Last Wednesday, our home was Matzo-ball Central. You see, I was preparing for our Seder. Of all the Jewish holidays, Passover is my favorite. I go crazy inviting too many guests, cooking like a lunatic, and loving the feeling of comradeship and discussion that the first meal of the season brings.
The thing about our Passover celebration is that our guests are mostly not Jewish. This isn’t intentional; it’s just the way things have evolved during the last few years. Friends want to come. We want them here to share this joy with us.
However, since I have so many people who don’t come from my same cultural heritage, I feel compelled to explain and illuminate and explore concepts that might be taken for granted elsewhere.
At its core, Passover is about freedom from slavery and religious persecution. These two themes can be found in many Jewish observances, but they have special meaing at this time of year. When we read the Passover story in our Haggadahs, we’re reliving the Jewish escape from slavery in Egypt AND praying that the world will be freed from any kind of slavery, anywhere, soon.
So, on Wednesday, while I formed the matzo balls (around 60-70), I had plenty of time to think about bondage and what it means today. Many children around the world are sold into ghastly forced labor situations because they’re families are too poor to support them. There are sex slaves and prisoners of war who become slaves.
On a more esoteric level, thralldom can be a state of mind. I’m not trivializing its horrors, merely extending them.
Most people I know have sub-dermal shackles.
In some, they’re behavioral patterns that destroy chances at happiness or deep personal relationships. In others, they’re intellectual chains–knee-jerk arguments and justifications, insecurities that paralyze progress. And there are the emotional manacles–jealousy, bitterness, resentment . . .
This week, while I eat my daily matzo, I’ll be trying to identify my own mental leg irons. I’ll search out the fetters that limit my perceptions and/or interactions, that prevent me from flying even freer in my creativity, that stiffle the best in my life and loves.
To me, once they’re seen for what they are, I have at least a fighting chance to punch them out of existence.
Can any of you identify the chains in your life?
Have you done this kind of exercise before?
Have you managed to kick one out for good?