Posts Tagged ‘leavening’

As Passover began this week, I’ve been reflecting a lot about the meaning of the holiday. I’m not a particularly observant or religious Jew, but I do identify with my religion as being an important part of my cultural background, and I think that a lot of Jewish holidays can provide meaningful reflection on our own lives. Passover is one of my favorite holidays, because it celebrates freedom from oppression, and there is a focus on transition and renewal.

I really like the ideas I have read in several Haggadot that proclaim that Passover is important because, though we use it to retell the story of the Hebrews’ Exodus from slavery in Egypt, it has relevance to every age. In every time, Jews have faced oppression and have eventually found a way to free themselves. Furthermore, every one of us has faced our own personal “Egypts” or “pharoahs”—things which oppress us, or which suppress our freedom. Thus, we tell the story of the Exodus, but we also reflect upon the many Egypts through which we have passed, both as a people and also as individuals.

The past several years have definitely been transitional in my life, as I returned to school to finish my bachelor’s degree. I found that I really identify with the idea of the personal Egypt. I have certainly had to find a way out of several Egypts in my life, many of them perhaps of my own making. Then, of course, I am about to reach another transition, when I graduate in May and have to figure out what to do next. Reflecting on Passover helps me focus my energy on figuring out what I need to do to be free from things which limits my freedom.

Passover also makes one think about all those who currently live under oppression and who truly are not free in the most literal sense of the word. Though I haven’t always followed the Passover traditions of eating matzah instead of leavened bread, and avoiding anything like pasta, crackers or other wheat products, I found a renewed interest in doing so this year. The mindfulness that focusing on these limitations requires helps direct my thoughts back to the fact that, as a person who enjoys freedom and civil liberties, I can choose to follow this diet because I have access to an unlimited range of food items, and because I have the freedom to practice my religion. Passover reminds me that freedom is not enjoyed by everyone in the world, and that I should not forget this while leading my comfortable life. As the haggadah says, “this year we are enslaved, next year may all humankind be free.”

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