Passover isolation is an opportunity for self-analysis

An illustration from the Conservative Movement’s Passover Haggadah, Feast of Freedom.

By Rabbi Carnie Shalom Rose

One of my all-time favorite pictures in our Conservative Movement Passover Haggadah, Feast of Freedom, is the one shown at right. It, of course, is a depiction of the Four Children that are described as part of the seder experience and which often engender passionate discussions and debate. In the end, I think we all realize that within us are elements of each of the aforementioned children. At times, each of us is wise, wicked, simple and even so very overwhelmed that we are at a loss for words.

This year, as we find ourselves in the middle of battling the COVID-19 pandemic, maybe more than ever before, we realize that we constantly vacillate between the characteristics of each of these paradigmatic figures. 

Candidly, despite the fact that our Passover celebrations will be somewhat tamped down and muted by the current situation, this time of isolation parents also presents us with an opportunity for introspection and soul searching. It allows us to look at all the various and varied elements of our personalities and personas and imagine how Pesach can serve as a catalyst for growth, development and deepening. Passover 5780, with all of its limitation and constraints, with all of its tzuris (a Yiddish word related to the Hebrew word Mitzrayim, Egypt), and its necessary social distancing, nonetheless presents us with a unique opportunity for liberation from past, unhealthy and counterproductive behaviors, attitudes and orientations.

So as we prepare for the Feast of Freedom this year, let us ask ourselves the following questions: What might we learn about the various aspects of ourselves and our lives that need exploration, recalibration, and tikkun, repair? Which elements of ourselves have we neglected and ignored and why? Which parts of ourselves are we hiding from and which might be of benefit not only to ourselves, but to our families, communities and the world at large? What do I need to liberate myself from in order to experience the main goal of Passover — the sense that we were once enslaved and now we are free?

As we welcome Passover, may we heed the profound message of the picture we see below and take up the challenge to acknowledge, actuate, and elevate all the elements and forces within us.

With blessings for a most meaningful Festival of Freedom.

Rabbi Carnie Shalom Rose is the Rabbi Bernard Lipnick Senior Rabbinic Chair at Congregation B’nai Amoona.