The end of the Chag (holiday) of Pesach is upon us, and so many who have kept Passover are counting down the moments until they can eat their beloved pizza, morning toast and all kinds of cakes and cookies. I even heard one person pining for a bowl of oatmeal.
Is it really that difficult to do without chametz food for seven days (or eight depending upon your custom)? It seems so for so many.
Does the discomfort and hunger for that which is forbidden help us meditate on our mytho-historical memory of leaving Egyptian Slavery in search of the Promised Land – or – does it just add to the list of things about which Jews can kvetch?
Thou shalt not crave
This year, I do not yet seem to crave anything. I have eaten plenty thanks to a smaller than usual Seder and a larger than expected supply of delicious leftovers. Still, I look forward to moments when I don’t have to think about the food I put in my mouth.
That discipline – being totally aware of what I eat – like keeping kosher, seems to parallel my doctor’s orders that I drop 15 pounds. The only way to do that is with daily exercise and by thinking before eating.
Thinking before eating.
The Jewish blessing and curse. Blessing, because it elevates the habitual action of eating, making it a sacred act of holiness. Curse, because it forces us beyond our base human needs and wants.
Do I think about slavery every time I eat during Passover? Heck no! But I do take pause, check the ingredients, figure out how many days remain in the Chag, and therefore get pulled back into the exodus. My mind sometimes wanders back to our Seder or forward to the different groups we talked about who are experiencing oppression today.
A constant reminder
That would not happen naturally. So I need something to goad me back to that mindset. What could be a more constant reminder than having to think before I eat.
So I may not be counting down the days until Passover ends. But I am counting forward about the things I can do to eradicate oppression from our world.
Chag Pesach Sameach – happy Passover.