Amidst the hustle and bustle of pre-Pesach preparations, we find ourselves preoccupied with cleaning, shopping, and cooking. It’s that time of year again, when we think of slavery, freedom, four cups of wine, miracles, and — of course — that long-awaited fresh springtime air!
The theme of Pesach is freedom from slavery. We’re aware that slavery exists, though it can be hard to really understand.
But are we so free?
If we were to honestly reflect, we would likely recognize that there are areas of our lives in which we are figuratively enslaved. It might be to our job, our car, our cell phone, or our habits. It might be to fear and anxiety. We might even be enslaved in unhealthy relationship patterns. Those who have experienced relationship pain will often build mental blockages to protect themselves from the deep heartbreak of a serious relationship that didn’t or won’t materialize.
Experience shows us that we can easily, even imperceptibly, become enslaved by harmful thoughts or feelings. They have a hold on you and keep you in bondage, not allowing you to move forward to the full life you are capable of living.
How do we free ourselves from the shackles that enslave us, keeping us from moving forward in ways we so badly want and need?
First, it is important to accept the reality of that fear, anxiety, blockage, and/or pain. Awareness is always the first step to healing and rebuilding. Second, we must mourn what was lost, what we want but cannot have. Through this, we will be able to move beyond the thoughts and fears that plague us. Third, we must clean out those negative and unproductive thoughts, memories, and experiences. They create burdensome baggage that weighs us down as we carry it through our lives.
Yes, it is easier said than done; but if there is ever a time to do it, it is now. This is when we rid ourselves of the chometz, the unwanted parts of ourselves that don’t allow us to self-actualize.
Once we are cleansed, we’re in a position to rebuild. A fresh slate, a positive attitude, a feeling that blessing and good can happen to me! We can rid ourselves of the negativity that entangles and enslaves us all year, that holds us back from the relationships we want with ourselves, with Hashem, and with others. True inner freedom is possible at last!
This is a vital lesson of Pesach. The Jewish people had many traumatic years of slavery in Egypt, yet they chose to leave all those terrible memories behind and not let it define their future. They left, they detached, they cleaned out the old, and were ready to rebuild — and rebuild they did! They received the Torah, moved to Israel, and, to this day, continue to change all of human history.
Although Yom Tov is never easy on singles, this year let us try to accept, mourn, clean, and rebuild. Rebuild ourselves from the inside out, because it’s the time for fresh beginnings. Rebuild because we want a newer, cleaner version of ourselves, and because our future depends on it.
May the cleansing of self and release from personal bondage leave you only a very short distance to your longest relationship.
By Rachel Burnham