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Friday, March 22, 2013

The Pesach Production


Many years ago, when I was working at our town's Tourist Information Center, a group of Christian tourists came in to watch the History of Safed movie that we screened. Following the movie the group's pastor asked me to explain exactly what the group was seeing as they walked through the town during the days before Passover.

As I started to explain, with each element melding into the next, I kept thinking to myself "we're crazy. We are really crazy.

When preparing for Passover observant Jews need to remove every speck of chametz -- levened foodstuffs -- from their homes. This entails weeks of cleaning, scrubbing, searching, removing until the whole house sparkles. People who spring clean haven't a clue what true spring cleaning really is.

Some items which are used during the rest of the year can be made kosher by immersing them in boiling water, blowtorching them or, in the case of glassware, soaking them in a tub of water for 3 days. In general though, most observant Jews maintain separate sets of dishes, cookware, cutlery, etc, which is stored away during most of the year and brought out for Passover.  

When the whole house is clean (or, when the remaining chametz products are concentrated into a small area), the entire home has to be restocked with new, "Kosher for Passover" products. 
Meats, fish, poultry, dry goods....everything has to have a certification that it was prepared "kosher for Passover" and its production overseeing by an authority who could ensure that no chametz came anywhere near it. Things like vegetables, fruit and eggs are generally washed off and can be kept from pre-Pesach.

Interestingly enough, I never liked Pesach when I was growing up. The Seders were boring ("when do we eat?") and the food was.....bland. Plus, I'm not a big fan of matza to begin with.

But once I started "making Pesach" I began to enjoy the holiday much more. They say that cleaning your house of chametz is also a spiritual cleaning -- cleaning yourself from the things that enslave you, that keep you from growing and moving ahead. I don't know how successful I am at that...I still worry too much, am still too cautious and don't spread my wings as much as I might.

But the process does make me more aware, and that's important.

I guess that, it's like everything else. Coming out of "Mitzrayim" -- Egypt -- is a process of shaking off the things that enslave us and testing our abilities.

This year I left a "safe" job. It didn't demand much of me, but didn't allow me to push myself either. I'm now in a position where I can, and must, challenge myself to succeed and, it's happening. So we can all move out of our own personal Mitzrayim (in Hebrew, "mitzrayim" comes from the word "tzar" -- narrow -- so Mitzrayim was a narrow place, figuratively as well as physically) to expansion.

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