The chains that bind us

by Pari

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?

18 thoughts on “The chains that bind us

  1. billie

    Pari, I’ve gotten far enough in this inner self endeavor that I now recognize the mental chains and can often intervene when I’m reacting from that “enslaved” place.

    Some days it amuses me and others it horrifies me that it is so hard to eradicate them completely!

    Thank you for sharing your Passover here – I was just thinking yesterday about how valuable “reviewing” the day is for me, and this fits in perfectly with that practice.

  2. Fiona

    Pari, our family was invited to celebrate passover with our neighbors, some of their friends, and my neighbor flew his mom in to cook!

    Great meal, great conversation, and lots of thought about “enslavement” on a personal and societal level.

    Our conversation turned to our society’s enslavement to fossil fuels, and all of the environmental and military implications.

    That, along with the NYT magazine, has prompted me to list every micro way of throwing off that enslavement–things I can do NOW. Big, life-changing project has begun.

  3. JT Ellison

    Pari – lovely post. I don’t know what the appropriate greeting is, so I’ll shoot for I hope you’re having a blessed Passover.

    I must have been channeling your spirit. Yesterday I had an epiphany about the chains binding me to some exceptionally unhealthy places on the Internet. I deleted many bookmarks, unjoined several groups, and the freedom on knowing I’ve got all the time I would normally spend on those frustrations to myself was a joyous moments. I’ve vowed that if I do spend time on the Internet, it will only be in places I love, not the ones who drag me down. Happy places. Very liberating.

  4. Pari Noskin Taichert

    Billie,I knew you’d be right in synch with this post. The job you do involves helping others to loosen — or at least find — those chains.

    It IS amazing how difficult they are to banish. What I find is that many spiral back, but they have less power each time. At least that’s my hope.

  5. Pari Noskin Taichert

    Fiona,Wow. That’s a wonderful take on enslavement. I bet there are other societal shackles we all could identify.

    That you’ve taken the discussion to heart and are now endeavoring to act upon the small to effect the large is truly inspiring.

  6. Pari Noskin Taichert

    J.T.,You can say, “Happy Passover,” and no one will bite your head off.

    Like you, I deleted some bookmarked sites and unsubscribed from a couple of listservs and have felt tremendous freedom in that.

    However, I did find other sites and listservs that I WANTED to participate in and, so, I’m not sure I bought any more time.

    But I did free myself from places where I knew I’d never be truly accepted and that action made me feel absolutely liberated and just plain good.

  7. Pari Noskin Taichert

    Alex,That’s very interesting. I think of you as one of the freer, less manacled, people I know.

    So you don’t miss screenwriting? Is the work or all that went with it that kept you bound?

    I wonder.

  8. billie

    Louise, what a wonderful image. I’m going to keep it and when I need to envision myself breaking free from annoying little niggling habits that don’t do me any good, I’ll have a wonderful visual at my fingertips!

  9. Pammy D

    Thanks for the post, Pari:

    Two years ago March I ‘passed over’ my last cigarette. I had smoked for almost 25 years. (Scary! Five year old children should NEVER take up smoking – kidding.)

    No gum, no drugs, no patches – just yoga and a badly broken arm. That’s my ticket to quitting smoking. Do I miss it? Once in a while. Do I miss my perfectly svelte smoker’s body? Yes. Will I take off the post-nicotine, metabolism changing pudge that has prevailed? Working on it. Do I miss smelling like an ashtray, and catching every single cold and flu and bronchitis that lurks? No. Do I still have other bad habits? Good god, yes!

    Happy Passover.

  10. Pari Noskin Taichert

    Hey Spyscribbler,Thank you. I knew when I wrote the post that it’d be a little heavy for most folks on a Monday morn, but went with it anyway. Sometimes it’s good to pause for introspection.

    I’m glad it resonated with your life.

  11. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Pari

    What a great post. The idea of some mental spring cleaning sounds wonderful and I really ought to do it. Needs to be done regularly, though, or the dust of sloth and habit tends to thoroughly clog up the brain again in about six months.

    Just like housework.

    Happy passover!


  12. Pammy D

    Yes, Zoe.

    “Break Your Arm” is #5 in the ‘Official Stop Smoking NATURALLY, Guidebook.’ “Break Your Leg” and “Take up Crack” are much further down the line.



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