Monday, March 29, 2010

What makes tonight different from every other night?

I just wanted to stop by and tell you folks that things are going well here. I'm currently in New York, preparing for Passover with my in-laws. It's actually quite pleasant and is starting to feel like vacation, rather than work. Like everything else post-wedding, it seems like things have calmed down enough that we can all be ourselves and "ourselves" are fairly interesting folks who have good intentions in their hearts. My mother-in-law has been delightful, caring and only the normal kind of crazy that every woman gets when she has to prepare a ritual meal for her entire family. I feel blessed.

My nieces are perfect 4 and 6-year-olds who think I'm fabulous. The 4-year-old asked me what I was reading and responding with perfect enthusiasm, "Oh! A fairy book? Will you read it to me?" She also explains the intricate details of whatever imagination play she is engaged in and does not mind when you need to walk away to carry a set of plates from the kosher-for-Passover kitchen in the basement to the newly clensed kitchen on the main floor. She is eternally patient. The older wants to be included in things and I've let her help me make the Jerusalem salad by having her hold the measuring spoon for the oil and asking her to transfer the vegetables from the cutting board to the bowl. She asked me, "When I'm a little older, will you teach me how to knit?" I love answering their questions and quizzing them about the preparations for Passover. "What else do we use parsley for during the seder?"

Tonight, we will tell the story of the Jews' liberation from Pharoah and remind each other that we have a duty to liberate others from their bondage. We start with ourselves, having patience for the endemic stress that is ubiquitous during holidays when it flares, shrugging our shoulders at someone else's melt-down to show helplessness in the face of criticism: both a mea culpa and a martyrdom for what we have not caused. We open our arms in the next gesture, making eye contact and smiling or leaning forward for the kiss that says, "We'll live through this," and "Isn't it nice to get to be so intimate because of these trials?"

Tomorrow, we will tell the story of the Jews' liberation from Pharoah and remind each other that we have a duty to liberate others from their bondage. Then, we will get on a train and take the long trip through the wilderness, wandering if another coal train derails on our route like one did on the way in, feeling lucky that it only delays our arrival by 6 hours, rather than 40 years. As we return home, we know that like the Israelites, we will turn from God and be given the opportunity - in fact, God will practically beg us - to return to the way of living that God gives us. We will light Shabbat candles every week and thank God for that way, for the commnadments that are called mitzvot in Hebrew, so that we have direction and purpose in our lives, instead of having to wander.

Good Passover, people.

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