Redeeming

The Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt in the merit of the Jewish women.  What exactly did the women do?  They had faith.  Their husbands were doing back breaking labour and feeling lower than low.  The wives believed G-d would save the Jewish people.

Again, when the Sea of Reeds was parted for the Jewish people, it was the women who had brought instruments to celebrate the miracle.  They didn’t have time to let the bread rise for packing, (which is one of the reasons we eat Matzah) but they did have time to pack up the tambourines.

It is also said that it will be in the merit of women, again, that Mashiach (the messiah) will come.

This post is part of Twitter’s @imabima’s list of writing prompts for the first two weeks of Nissan leading up to Passover.

Counting

I remember as a child I would count the number of pages until Shulchan Orech, the main meal of the Passover Seder.  I remember that it always took so long to get to Korech, the Matzah sandwich, which meant the meal was soon to follow.

These days I count everything with my son.  The number of flowers in a bunch, fingers on a hand or sides of a shape.

I’m not so quick to count pages in the Haggadah any more.  A friend gave me probably the best wisdom.  We put so much effort into preparing for Passover.  We clean the house of Chametz, we shop for Matzah and our Passover food needs and we cook the meals.  Why rush through the Seder?  Savour it all, one delicious page at a time.

Because if you are counting, the days and years go by so quickly.

This post is part of Twitter’s @imabima’s list of writing prompts for the first two weeks of Nissan leading up to Passover.

Leaving

When the Jewish people left Egypt, they left behind lives of hardship and slavery.  Lives that were filled without purpose (the Egyptian slave master’s goal was to have the Jewish people do backbreaking pointless work).

The Jewish people physically left Egypt and slavery, but it took some time until they left spiritually.  There were complaints all along the way to Mount Sinai.  They complained at the Sea of Reeds and they complained when they thought they would run out of food.

They saw amazing miracles, yet their souls were still attached to the lives of slavery.

Leaving something (or somewhere) isn’t always easy.  It can mean leaving comfort and the familiar.  The Jewish people were comfortable being slaves.  As long as they were slaves, expectations were low.  They just had to do what they were told from day to day.

Beyond Egypt was a life of complete uncertainty, a life full of potential.

Leaving some thing/one/where can seem sad, but alternatively in the leaving the opportunities can be endless.

This post is part of Twitter’s @imabima’s list of writing prompts for the first two weeks of Nissan leading up to Passover.

Asking

Ma Nishtanah HaLaila HaZeh?

Why is this night different from all other nights?  Other than eating Matzah, how can we make the Seder meaningful and not just another family dinner?

How many times is Moses’ name mentioned in the Haggadah?  Why do you think that is?

What does it mean to be free?  Why does it say we are slaves this year, but next year will be free?

What other questions can we ask during the Seder?

and why should we be asking all the questions anyway?

This post is part of Twitter’s @imabima’s list of writing prompts for the first two weeks of Nissan leading up to Passover.

 

Learning

The Jewish calendar year is described as a spiral.  While we may return to the same point every year, hopefully we’re a bit wiser, more compassionate and understanding.  How do we reach higher every year?  By learning of course.

We can learn the hard way…through life’s tests and challenges.  We can also learn the more gentler way.  We can take a class, or read a book or listen to a lecture online.  There are awesome ways to learn Torah online.  The Torah gives us our foundation for life. It is through the lessons of the Torah we learn how to be good humans.

By learning we can prepare ourselves for life’s tests (and they are ongoing!). We may get angry when something happens, but then a light goes on.  We stop ourselves a few seconds later, take a breath, maybe even recite a little prayer.

I have much to learn about life, and one of my night time prayers is that I live up to my potential and fulfill my life’s mission.  I hope by learning, I will gain clarity.

What do you do to learn?  Are you a student for life?

This post is part of Twitter’s @imabima’s list of writing prompts for the first two weeks of Nissan leading up to Passover.

 

Blessing

In Hebrew, a blessing is a Brachah.  We say a Brachah before we light Shabbat candles, and before we eat or drink anything.  There is a Brachah for when we see a rainbow, hear thunder or smell something particularly delicious to the senses.  We even say a Brachah after using the bathroom.

What is the point of the Brachah or blessing, anyway?  The first word in a Bracha, Baruch, is related to Brechah, or spring (as in water source).  By saying a Brachah, we acknowledge that G-d is the source of everything in our lives.  It’s a way of saying thank you.

Every night at bedtime, part of the routine with my son is to pray for the people we care about.  The last part of the prayer is to tell G-d we’re thankful.  I say thank you for all of our live’s “Blessings”, whether it’s an invitation for a Shabbat meal, some hand me downs from a friend or the opportunity to do a Mitzvah.  One day soon, my son will add to our list.

This post is part of Twitter’s @imabima’s list of writing prompts for the first two weeks of Nissan leading up to Passover.

Cleaning

Passover requires an intense amount of cleaning.  I have read numerous articles about how it really should only take a few hours of cleaning.  Dirt isn’t Chametz.

Chametz can make it’s way around the house though.  The office is upstairs, a plate of crackers and a coffee while working on the computer.  A snack downstairs while watching a little TV.  The living room is connected to both the dining room and the kitchen.

I also have a very cute, very adorable little 18 month old son, who manages to get food every where.  He munches on a cracker and sets it down for later.  He finds it and then mashes it up (sound familiar?)

I need many hours to clean the house of Chametz because there are so many areas to clean.  I also have the regular every day stuff to do too.  It isn’t like life gets put on hold while Passover cleaning takes place.  There are dinners to make, laundry to clean and put away, bathrooms sadly, do not clean themselves.

I used to do a full on Spring cleaning when I did my Passover cleaning.  It just seemed to make sense.  That was B.K.  Before Kids.  Now that I have my adorable son, I’ve limited the cleaning to actual Chametz only.  But it still takes me a few weeks, working a few hours hear and there, until it’s all done.

How do you plan the Chametz Detox in your house?  How long does it take?

This post is part of Twitter’s @imabima’s list of writing prompts for the first two weeks of Nissan leading up to Passover.

Matzah

Yesterday’s post was on Chametz, the bread and character traits that limit us.  The next them is Matzah.

I also hinted at yesterday, that Matzah is the bread made quickly, and symbolically related to our zeal to do Mitzvot.

I find it interesting that we enjoy Shabbat with slowly prepared Challah, but we enter Shabbat with haste.  There are always last minute things to do.  Showers to take, dishes to get into the oven and the hot plate to set up.  We are very much like Matzah, moving quickly to get all the jobs done.

I get to candle lighting and force myself to slow down, take a moment, put money in the Tzedakah box and breathe.  Then I pick up the match and light the Shabbat candles.

Shabbat Shalom!

This post is part of Twitter’s @imabima’s list of writing prompts for the first two weeks of Nissan leading up to Passover.

Chametz

Chametz is such a curiosity to me.  During the rest of the year, we can enjoy it in its various forms, Challah, pizza, cakes…but in the days leading up to and all through Passover, we eliminate it from our lives.  We seek it out, remove it and even burn any remaining Chametz.

We replace Chametz with Matzah, flat breads, made quickly.  The Jewish people ate Matzah because they were in such a rush to leave Egypt (who wouldn’t be?) the bread had no time to rise.

Shabbat meals include fresh, yummy fluffy Challah.  Passover, dry Matzah.

I had learned that when it comes to a Mitzvah (or say, being rescued by G-d from slavery) we should rush and do it.  No hesitation, Just Do It as the Nike slogan says.

There are times when we need to sit back and just be, like Shabbat.  We eat Challah which usually takes hours to prepare (after rising and baking).  We hold on to Shabbat for as long as we can, with meals such as Melaveh Malkah.

Shabbat is meant for Chametz activities.  I admit, sometimes I am a bit more Chametz in the day to day.  I don’t always feel like making dinner.  Or laundry.  Sometimes I want to just sit in my pyjamas all day and relax.  Eventually I push myself through, but my body, yearns to be Chametz.

This post is part of Twitter’s @imabima’s list of writing prompts for the first two weeks of Nissan leading up to Passover.

Slavery

An obvious theme of Passover is slavery.  The Jewish people were slaves in Egypt.  The slavery was particularly awful because much of their work was back breaking labour meant more to waste time than to actually build anything.

The word for Egypt in Hebrew is Mitzrayim, meaning constriction, also relates to the theme of slavery.

Every year as we approach Passover, we are reminded to ask ourselves about what enslaves us.  What is slowing us down from reaching our potential?

I think my list can go on for a very long time.  I am impatient.  I am stubborn.  I very much cannot let things go until they are resolved.

Even today, I am tested on those weaknesses.  I am trying to book lodging through a website.  This should be a simple task.  The owner has not yet accepted the reservation through the website (but he messaged me saying, “Great see you when you arrive!”) which means there is no reservation.  Nothing will happen.  I don’t get the actual location of this lodging and there is no payment.  Talk about constriction!

I feel my anger and frustration building.  It isn’t easy to find the best place for a vacation and once you find THE place, you want things to go very smoothly.  I keep staring at my inbox waiting for the confirmation.  Refresh.  Refresh.  Refresh.

I know what I am doing.  I know it’s all from G-d.  I try short bursts of busy work, but I am back at the laptop.  Refresh.

What enslaves you?

This post is the third post, part of Twitter’s @imabima’s list of writing prompts for the first two weeks of Nissan leading up to Passover.