The holiday of Passover is one of redemption and freedom. Why, then, do the external aspects of the holiday primarily focus on our slavery? On the Seder Plate we have bitter herbs to represent our time in Egypt, we dip our food in salt water to represent tears, and we eat the Charoset to represent the bricks and mortar we used to build the Egyptian cities. What sits around us during the Seder, then, reminds us of our bitterness even while we sing songs of redemption.
I think one of the reasons for this is its easy to forget about the difficult times when things look so bright. When we are in the midst of our redemption or thousands of years later, we tend to focus on the miracles and not the hundreds of years of slavery we went through. And so we place physical reminders of those difficult times because our mental capacities are filled with the thoughts of redemption. The Seder Plate needs to show us slavery because otherwise we’d just focus on the miracle of leaving Egypt and not the difficult journey that started it.
For me, the parallel of my journey to the story of the Exodus is somewhat obvious. Only three months after being in the ICU for days and in the hospital for weeks, I’m doing great. I have gained over twenty pounds, I’m back at work full time and I’m feeling really well. But I think it’s important to not forget about the bitterness and sickness I felt only a few months ago. This blog is one way to remember those days. And I have daily reminders in my 30 pills I take at morning and night that my recovery is still a while away. Because without physical reminders of the difficult times in the past, it’s easy to move ahead and just think of the salvation that’s taken place. More than that, though, without a daily recollection of the difficult times, the redemption at times becomes lost. It’s not as powerful if you don’t have the signs in front of you of what occurred just a few months before. And therefore, I think it’s key to the story of Passover and my own story to sometimes focus on the bitterness because it makes the salvation that much sweeter.
I wish everyone a Happy Passover, Easter, and weekend and hope that you find the redemption you are looking for in all aspects of your life.