Take Something From The Minibar, And Stay For A While

Pesach is about taking our leave from the place we’ve sojourned for too long. It’s about packing what we can carry, whatever it is a Jewish slave in Egypt might have on hand – a Hebrew name, a few trinkets, the scars on our backs, a river of tears. Then going. Just going.

As if we, not only our forebears, lived in bondage thousands of years ago, I clean the kitchen, wondering if the ones who followed Moshe into the night were told by those who stayed behind It’s a hoax, It’s not as bad here as it appears, It will be worse for us if we leave. But we persisted, collecting our belongings along with whatever gold and silver we could find, as if they were nothing heavier than tiny bottles from a hotel minibar, souvenirs we were commanded to bring along for the road.

Meanwhile, I disinfect by day and sleep the sleep of the restless by night, dreaming of the One who never slumbers on His watch. I imagine our final days in Egypt – the frogs and the bloody Nile, the fiery hail and the locusts. But mostly I hear the silence and fear of that last night, the holding of breath and the whispering to the G-d of awe and wonder: Please let the Angel of Death pass us by when he sweeps through town.

I awake knowing that this Pesach night will be different from all the other Pesach nights in my lifetime. Not only because we will be fewer in number around the seder table or dressed in our pajamas. The maror and salt water seem redundant. Are we even permitted to let Eliyahu come inside? And yet, the trembling in the darkness has an authenticity, a tangibility in the present, that takes us back to Exodus.

All of this is more than any of us can carry. Even the bread of our affliction, the fragile, unleavened matzah that is the emblem of it all, is heavy with the weight of the times. The Hagadah may still tell of our grand departure from Egypt, when we tucked our mortal hands into G-d’s magnificent outstretched one and took Him up on His miracle. But this year, Pesach is about doing everything we can to go nowhere. If we find no other meaning in the holiday, I pray: Let it be that.

Photo by Katerina Kerdi on Unsplash