Passover may be a festival to celebrate freedom, but with all of the preparations; the cleaning, the cooking, the heavy food, the guests, it can feel pretty oppressive. If you think about it, after a week of eating matzah and all of the various pesadich foods, it can feel like we’re lugging around those huge Egyptian stones, complete with mortar, right inside our digestive tracts.
My advice to you this Pesach is to “lighten up!” Although Passover preparations are a great time to clear out all of the excess junk that we carry around and sweep out the dust bunnies under our furniture, some people take it too far. If you have the time and energy, great, but don’t enslave yourself just for the purposes of celebrating freedom. The point is to remove the chametz: any product made of the five grains subject to leavening: wheat, rye, barley, spelt or oats.
I recommend that everyone do a double mitzvah by getting rid of your chametz and passing it on to those in need. In fact, this year I am going to make it easy for you! Drop it off at TI by 11am on Sunday, March 13 and I’ll bring it to a food bank. If you want to keep that chametz around, no problem! You can sell it using this form by 12noon on Sunday 4/13.
If you miss a crumb or two in the corners of your house? There’s an app for that! Well, it’s actually a ritual called Bedikat Chametz. On the night before Erev Pesach (Sun evening 4/13 this year), we symbolically search our house for anything that might have been left behind. It’s a fun ritual to do with kids, candles (or flashlights) in hand, with a feather to sweep up the crumbs into a spoon. There are brachot to say before and after. The best part is that if you don’t find everything, the second brachah has you covered. Anything you miss, it’s as if it was dust. So fuhgeddaboutit!
Okay, so the cleaning is easy, what about the cooking? Here’s where my health and wellness consulting overlaps with my role as educator. Yummy food is the best part of Pesach and just about any Jewish holiday celebration. I would never take that away from you! But think about it, do you really need all of that matzah-meal filled cakes? Some of it might be reasonably tasty, but most of it is just a poor substitute for the real thing. Passover is a SPRING holiday! If you think about it, it’s kind of silly that we eat so many heavy foods when there are lots of yummy vegetables and fruits available. Try some lighter recipes, with fresh or roasted veggies. Serve fruit as dessert. Other than less impact on your waistline, it will also have less impact on your bottom line! Think of how much you’ll save if you avoid the costly box mixes and pre-made kugels. (You should still use gelt (grocery gift cards) for all your Passover and everyday purchase to benefit TI and get money off your bill.)
Passover is a joyous celebration of freedom, so my advice is KISS: Keep it Simple & Springy.
May your Pesach celebrations been sweet and personally meaningful!