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From Purim to Pesach

08/04/19 10:34:48 AM


Now that we have recovered from the joy of Purim, we can begin the slow but steady journey into Pesach, the holiday of freedom.  The two holidays are always one month away from each other, from full moon to full moon, and this convenient arrangement was not a mistake.  The Talmud tells us very clearly that we should “juxtapose one redemption to the other redemption” (Megillah 6b) and that the two holidays are inherently connected both in theme and meaning.  

Both stories begin with the Jewish people in a place of exile; for Purim they are in Persia, and of course in the Pesach story, the land of Egypt.  In the Purim Megillah, God is not mentioned, and in the Pesach Haggadah there is no mention of Moses. One holiday is focused around the power of people to create their own redemption, and the other is about the power of God to guard us and bring us to freedom.  Both have a evil leader who attempts to destroy the Jews. And one holiday is a day filled with food and drink, and is a holiday filled with food and drink!

But while we could continue to list the similarities between the two holidays, we can also learn much from the days in between the two celebrations.  As we make our way from Purim to Pesach, we have an opportunity to go through a very personal journey to our own understanding of salvation and freedom.  

It is usually in the days before Pesach begins that we begin to clear our homes of hametz, the crumbs of leaven that are prohibited during the week of the holiday.  But our tradition tells us that we are also clearing our lives of the spiritual “hametz”, the representation of our egos and our lack of connectedness with our spiritual selves and our relationships.  This kind of cleaning and retrospection cannot be done in a few days, and this is a process that we can start now.

Over these weeks, we can work to free ourselves from our own personal enslavements so we can be in a place of clarity and openness when Pesach comes.  We can once again be ready hear the story of the Exodus and make our way to freedom as a community and as individuals. What challenges, what people have been holding you back from achieving your greatest potential?  When have you not been your best self, and when have you let your ego control your actions? What have you done spiritually to keep yourself centered in the midst of the challenges of life? These are the questions which we need to ask, before we can really start sweeping away the crumbs of hametz in the days before Pesach.

It is no coincidence that the time before Pesach often coincides with the annual ritual of “Spring Cleaning”.  As the weather warms and the flowers start to bloom, many of us have a natural urge to clean up and “start fresh”.  The growth of spring means that we can both physically and spiritually come out of our darkness, and begin the process of healing and redemption that we know is near.

Now that we can take off the masks of Purim, we can spend the upcoming weeks searching for our true selves.  From our individual redemptions, to remembering our obligation to each other and to our community during Pesach, this is the time for the most meaningful growth.  May this truly be a time of positive change and inspiration for all of us and for our community.

And don’t forget, you only have a few more days to eat all of those leftover Hamentaschen!

Fri, November 22 2019 24 Cheshvan 5780