Mintz: Finding internal liberation at Passover
Passover is on the horizon and it will be a holiday to remember. For the first time since my wife Doba and I moved to Vail in 2006, we will not be hosting a community Seder. Instead, we will be ensuring that every family in our area has the necessary provisions and knowledge to conduct their own seder at home.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only brought death and illness to our fragile world but also unprecedented panic. I was born in the early 80s, so this reality is one that I’ve never known or experienced. I never thought that right here in our beloved republic of kindness, these United States, we’d be dealing with food shortages, toilet paper obsessions and a country in disarray.
As these panicky thoughts rushed through my mind, I came across an incredible teaching from my mentor, the Lubavitcher Rebbe of blessed memory, which he shared on Passover of 1956. As I read his words from over 60 years ago, I felt as if he was talking to me in 2020, talking to all of us. Here’s what he said:
“On Passover Jews eat matzah, unleavened bread, to commemorate the food eaten by Jewish slaves in Egypt. Why do slaves eat matzah? Because it’s a “bread of affliction,” baked in under 18 minutes, without the dough having time to rise. Slavery is so harsh, depriving the slave from the ability to see any good. If you can’t give yourself the time, even 18 minutes, to focus on the greatness of God, on all the blessings that we do have in our lives, on “the miracles of each and every day,” then we are internally enslaved. Being free means controlling how we use our time and choosing to focus, on occasion, on all that is good, putting ourselves in a freer mindset and state of being.”
As we gather around the Seder feast with our families, we will celebrate the exodus of ancient Hebrews, but we must also dig deep into our delicate souls. As we search inward, we will seek and find internal liberation, which allows us to step aside from the 24/7 panic news cycle and the doomsday prophets and say thank you. Thank you, God, for all that you do and for sending us so many angels in the form of health care professionals, law enforcement officers and essential services providers who are helping us fight on and get through this challenging time.
In the unforgettable words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
Rabbi Dovid Mintz directs Vail Chabad Jewish Center. He and his family live in Vail since 2006. He can be reached at info@JewishVail.com.