Passover and Personal Liberation

By Howard Reznick, LCSW-C

The first signs of the yellow budding of forsythia are a childhood association I have with the coming of Passover. At times all the work involved in getting ready for the holiday – the changing of dishes, the thorough cleaning, the shopping and cooking – seemed like slavery to me. But when we finally sat down at the Seder table, with the fancy place settings and Passover symbols, looking around at all the relatives dressed up and ready to begin, I sensed a profound change in the air.

I still have that sense now as a grown-up.

While Passover is about the liberation of our Israelite ancestors from slavery and our Exodus from Egypt, today I take it to mean something to each of us on a personal level as well. This holiday provides us with an opportunity to look at and think about what we are enslaved to. What patterns, habits, character traits or life styles are holding us captive? What gets in the way of our being the truly free people we were meant to be?

Some of us have challenges related to our lifestyles: too much food, too much coffee, not enough physical movement in our day, toxic relationships with people or substances, and other unproductive or addictive pursuits. For others it’s about not giving enough time and attention to family or friends or putting off nurturing the important relationships in our lives.

How do we free ourselves from habits and patterns of behavior that are hard to change? The first step is getting honest with ourselves about what is enslaving us. Then we need to admit this in an honest way to another person, perhaps a trustworthy friend or professional.  Next, we need to commit ourselves to an effective and reasonable plan of action. Seeking and securing the help we need to accomplish our goals for change, and holding ourselves accountable to another, will open up a true path to liberate ourselves from the lifestyles and choices to which we’ve been enslaved.

It makes sense to me that Passover comes in spring, when new life is being born in nature all around us. This is the season when we can gather with family or friends – those with whom we feel safe – and we review the story of our communal, and maybe our individual, enslavements. By sharing the story, our story, with the help of G-d, we too can become truly free.

Howard Reznick photo

Howard Reznick, LCSW-C

Jewish Community Services (JCS) provides programs and services for people of all ages and backgrounds, helping them achieve their goals, enhance their wellbeing, and maximize their independence. To learn more, please visit our home page or call 410-466-9200.

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