“Passover” – the word brings to mind the amazing saving of our people as the Angel of Death passed over the first born of the Israelites, not sparing those of the Egyptians. It was a seminal moment for our people, so defining, that we are to relive it annually, viscerally, as we recite the Haggadah at our seders.
But passing over is not always a good thing, such as being passed over for a promotion. Or Sid will joke that the chocolate chips in that ice cream were passed over at 1000 feet, like hardly any were there.
Perhaps a more serious passing over occurs when we fail to dig into life. One of my dearest friends lives life in that space, not digging in too deeply. She has had some serious tragedies, and yet, doesn’t discuss the pain, even to those closest to her. That’s one way to deal with the problems all of us face at various times in our lives. Passing over in not such a good way for deep healing.
We’ve discussed how these seem to be times when many of us are experiencing unusual challenges. It seems adversity has been affecting all areas – financial, health, relational, spiritual, emotional – times of unusual hurdles and obstacles. And yet, this seems to be a season of unusual opportunity as well. As we have to work for what once seemed easy, we can review and realign our financial choices, make better decisions regarding our health, address the issues in relationships that are holding us back, dig deeper spiritually and emotionally.
Rather than pass over the sticking points, or worse, in our lives, we can choose to strengthen the very roots of our existence and identify the forces that pull us away from more meaningful lives. The tension between good and evil in our lives can actually be a catalyst to propel us into even better lives. As we no longer take blessings for granted, we become even more grateful when something goes right. As we have to right a wrong or work harder for health or learn how to accept defeat, we grow not only in our personal fortitude, but also, closer to Him. We live lives more modeled after Yeshua, and in the dark times cleave to Him as our source of strength, our solace, our hope.
When we allow ourselves to fully engage, even deeply process the negative as well as the positive, we emerge all the stronger out of the point of tension as we don’t just pass over the events, but rather, we deeply live them. How much more we appreciate the healing when we were so ill, how much gratitude for each small thing as we have lived without for so long, how warm the kindness when we have been without, how sweet the job when we had none, how intense the feeling of a hug when without for so long. As we learn again through hardship to appreciate the smallest blessings, how much moreso we are in awe of the larger blessings He showers on us, ones we so easily take for granted during the times that we pass over saying, “Thank you”.
At last week’s oneg, someone asked me “How do you say “Thank you” in Yiddish. Since my mother and grandmother (who lived with us) spoke almost exclusively Yiddish around us kids, I was flummoxed that I couldn’t remember how to say this phrase. I quipped that we didn’t hear a lot of “thank yous” in our home, but I’m proficient with the curse words. Then I remembered. . . My grandmother who escaped the pogroms, but never escaped the emotional toll they took, would literally say “Dank Gott”! “Thank God!” so many times a day. She was a woman who lived life deeply, loved life deeply, every moment, experiencing the good and the bad deeply. She did not “pass over” her life experiences! When things were good, she did not take them for granted. She remembered to thank God. She lived in a state of gratitude, gratefulness, much moreso than most people, I believe, having lived most likely a horrific life of fear in Russia before emigrating to America. She had horror stories of seeing her cousins killed in the streets, hunger, fighting to live on a daily basis. And how she enjoyed the littlest things in life, dancing, singing, and reveled in family car drives and vacations! The word for “thank you” is “dank”, and the memory of her so passionately and often thanking God, was one that resonated deeply once I remembered, and one we are reminded of during these holy days. We have so much to be thankful for, beyond measure, that we are here today able to share our story with our children and their children.
As we immerse in this Passover season, I encourage you to more deeply engage in life, both the challenges and the blessings, and not just pass over the events that sometimes seem to define our existences. For we learn from the struggles, we grow in our capacities to withstand adversity as we prepare for what is to come. We see the blessings with eyes and lips filled with gratitude, immersed in the overflowing blessings alongside the hardships. By not passing over the spectrum of life’s experiences, we more deeply experience its many miracles, an intertwined array of sorrows and joys, all part of this journey from bondage to freedom of our souls in Him.
Chag Pesach Sameach and Shabbat shalom.