There are very few words in the English or Hebrew language that make me quite as excited or happy as the word “Pesach.” (Shh don’t tell my mom!) In case the previous sentence didn’t give it away, Pesach is my favorite Chag, for a few reasons. The main reason is that it is a family-oriented holiday and I love spending time with my family. The second reason is the simple idea that the more you put into something, the more you get out. The more you prepare and work for something, the more sense of accomplishment you feel. Pesach requires more prep than any other chag, and as crazy and stressful as it is sometimes, I love the experience simply because I put so much into it and spent so much time on it. The third reason I love Pesach so much is that the themes of the chag seem to resonate with me a lot:
1. Freedom. Luckily I never experience slavery, but I always learned that although Pesach refers to a national redemption, Pesach is also about personal redemption. We all have difficulties and problems in life- that’s how life goes and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But recognizing G-d as the source of salvation and freedom from all of life’s challenges- whether it is a rift in friendship or with a family member or other relationship, whether it is a lack of clarity or direction. Whatever your issue is right now, just take a look at what G-d did for the Jews. The situation seemed hopeless, but Hashem proved that we should never despair. Hityatzivu U’Riu et Yishuat Hashem. Just watch! Hashem can save you.
2. The theme of love and closeness between Hashem and B’nei Yisrael. We read Shir Hashirim on Pesach, and the entire story of Yitziat Mitzrayim and Kriyat Yam Suf is full of Hashem saying, “I love you” to us and us responding with “I love you” to Hashem. That is why we call this chag “Pesach,” remembering what Hashem did for us, passing over our houses and only killing the Egyptians, while Hashem in the Torah never calls this chag Pesach, but rather Chag HaMatzot, “remembering” in a sense, what we, B’nei Yisrael, did for Hashem, our mitzvot- we ran out before our dough had a chance to rise, and today we do the Mitzvah of eating Matzah on Pesach.
3. The theme of spring, Chag HaAviv, renewal. Spring is a beautiful season. Watching trees that had no leaves on them start to blossom and watching the leaves appear amazes me every year. Plants are dead in the winter, things are dark and gloomy, and then spring comes and the flowers come out and it is just wonderful. We, too, can renew ourselves. We all have low points, and we can all start over. It is interesting in Judaism that we have two beginnings of the year and two beginnings of each day. A Jewish day begins at night, but in some sense, the morning is also the beginning of the day- we say Modeh Ani, it’s a new chance. Each year has two beginning points. Tishrei and Rosh Hashana are the beginning in some sense, but Nisan is the first month of the year, too.
There is so much more out there to say about Pesach, but those three points are the main points that really speak to me. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to post some of my favorite Divrei Torah to say at the seder, but I am always on the lookout for new Divrei Torah to share at my seder, so feel free to post your favorite thoughts and ideas in the comments or email me!
Also, if you have not yet seen this video, put out by aish.com it is really great: