Packing Up Passover

It’s just a few days before Passover. I’ve turned my kitchen over, unpacked all of my Passover kitchen goods and labeled the cabinets, which I will have to ignore for the eight days of the festival. Everything seems in order; everything except one thing.

I am an incredibly impatient person. I have very little tolerance for the waiting game. Even if the outcome is negative – I’d rather face that now than wait on the off chance that things might turn in my favor. This, of course means, that I tend to be a productive person. I get a tremendous amount done in a day. When I’m turning off my computer at the end of the day, my greatest joy is throwing away my daily list of things to do with every item checked off.

This also means that I tend to rush and not always give things the attention they deserve. Although I’m quite efficient when it comes to Passover cleaning I am nonetheless able to overcome this need for speed. I try and take my preparations very seriously and give them the time that they deserve.

The problem however is not with the Passover preparation – it is with the transition back to everyday living in my kitchen. Having to move pots and pans, dishes and non-perishables in preparation for Passover means that there are boxes and crates of non-Passover things shoved away in a closet. I can’t see them – but I know they are there.

When Heather and I moved last year and each time before that – Heather has known going into it that she would have very little time to decide where things should go. We would take pictures of our new home and map out ahead of time where every piece of furniture and most of our artwork would go. This is because I can’t live with boxes. My impatience simply doesn’t allow it. I would rather stay up all night after we move in and put everything in its place then slowly and thoughtfully arrange our things in their proper place. It’s not that I’m inflexible. Once things are out of their containers they can be moved at a later date but they must not remain packed overnight.

So, just a few days before Passover I am already itching to put everything back in its proper place. I have no choice but to be patient until the end of the holiday, but rest assured – by late Saturday night, April 30th. All will be right in my kitchen.

It’s interesting how we can so quickly pack away such an important part of our Jewish and spiritual lives. For me it isn’t much more than dishes and flatware. I wonder what it is for others in our community. Is Passover a spiritual island in our lives? Do we take a yearly vacation there returning after eight glorious (yet constipated) days with fond memories but not much more? Do we pack away our religious life with our pots and pans? Do we eagerly look forward to our next spiritual trip, perhaps Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur?

I seeing a commercial for Bahamavention. Bahamavention is when concerned family members or friends “Bahamavene” in the lives of a loved one and offer him or her the help only the Islands of the Bahamas can provide. To convince us that only “the real thing” – a vacation to the Bahamas, will do the trick for an overworked, over-stressed person, the commercial showed a cartoon character simulating a 10-minute vacation in the Bahamas in their office. They suntanned on white paper beaches, went exploring nature in the back stairwell, suntanned under the powerful rays of their fluorescent office lights and dined at the finest vending machines available. All the while imagining they were on their dream vacation. The implication, of course, is that you can’t replicate the real thing.

But I beg to differ. Finding a moment in your day to talk to God may not hold the majesty of Yom Kippur services, but it can have the same powerful effect on the soul. Allowing Shabbat dinner to become a part of your weekly routine may not share the anticipation that Passover Seder does but it can lift your spirit just as much. Judaism isn’t only about the “big games” or the long overdue vacations. Living Jewishly is about carving out moments everyday to find the peace and tranquility that the beauty of Jewish ritual can provide.

When we packed away our Passover dishes did we also pack away our connection to Jewish living? What will sustain our souls between now and next spring when I, again, nervously wait to Pack up Passover.

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