Why I hate Pesach – The pain of confronting reality

Ok, sorry for that shocking name of the article, but here goes. I hate Pesach. There, I said it. No, it is not for all the cleaning needed. Though, that really is not my favorite thing, I can handle that. It isn’t even the exorbitant spike in my credit card bill as this holiday comes and goes, though that too is not my favorite thing. The reason I hate Pesach is because to really do it right, you need to confront your chometz/leaven. You need to look inside yourself, and let’s face it, who like doing that?

Let me explain.

We will soon be gathered around the table talking about the four sons, and this is often an emotional call to parents to explore their success and failure as a parent, as to which “kind” of son they did/are raise.

I have four sons, but they are all the righteous one, so for me this is merely an exercise in theory. Seriously though, I think there is powerful conversation to be had here. Indulge me for a moment here.

***

Parenting, which comes with no manual, is amongst the highest on the list of difficult things.

It often seems that regardless of what is going on, we are not getting it right. Are our kids happy? If not, why not? If they are, we ask ourselves other questions, all in an effort to to attain perfection for them, and thus for ourselves. Why aren’t they more driven and motivated? And if they are, we look for something else. We work ourselves to the bone trying to make them happy, and most often, our efforts to improve things are met with responses like, “just mind your own business” or “stay out of my life!” So, what is going on?

My book on parenting is coming out, so for a more thorough deep dive into this, you are going to have to wait for the book, but for now, let these paragraphs suffice.

I recently listened to a podcast in which Dr. Phil, of the famous Dr. Phil Show, was being interviewed. Most of what he said was common sense, including what struck me, perhaps the simple Southern way in which he said it, finally made it click for me.

He described a scenario that often comes up in his show, where there is a 30-something-year-old, living at home, abusing various substances, and parents are frustrated and don’t know what to do with their failing child/adult.

He continued, that often there is a complex situation, with traumas and other mental health disorders that require delicate handling, but more often the situation is quite simple and easy to explain and fix. The parents don’t want to live with the worry that their child is on the streets, perhaps being taken advantage of, perhaps they are cold, perhaps they may take their substance abuse to its (G-d forbid) worst case scenario. So rather than feel all that fear, the parents will provide their child with a roof over their head, food to eat, a cell phone to call – just in case of emergency – and pay for the insurance on their car – because Gd forbid they will have a car accident and be arrested or be on the hook for major financial obligations – etc.

Basically, they are anxious about the child’s anxiety.

In truth though, in that scenario, the parents “helping” their kid are not doing their child any favor. (They are selfishly only trying to do themselves a favor. The favor of a less anxious night’s sleep, and hurting their kid in the process.)

Kids want to be parented and pushed. They crave boundaries and borders. When they say, back off, what they may often be really saying is, I need some space to figure out all these feelings I feel inside. So please allow me some time to process what you just said or did, while I work this out on my own. I want to be an adult someday too, and I can’t get there if you are always butting in.

They often don’t have the words to express those intense and unfamiliar feelings, but they don’t want us to simply do things for them, so that we can have tranquility for ourselves.

Often it is our own anxiety that is steering the ship of “help” on their choppy waters. If so, we are are actually not saving them, we are making it worse.

I wonder, and that is all this is, me wondering, if this is what is going on in our lives, as viewed from Gd’s perspective. Perhaps our pain, parenting, faith, health, or any other challenge, is the pain of growth. Perhaps the things that appear difficult, are the things that are exactly what we need, and like our children, we need training to push through. These are the challenges we are facing, and simply surviving, will make us thrivers?

Perhaps, the goal is only to make us better and stronger, and while it feels painful down, here, it is really the growing pains of a full and meaningful existence?

(To be clear, this doesn’t make it less painful while we are in it, and crying and kvetching is normal and the healthy reaction usually, but it is not a destination in itself.)

***

The Passover season, the story, and the modern day program of Passover is filled with so much investment of time, energy and emotion. Sometimes we wonder if all the hassle is worth it? I am suggesting, perhaps it is a part of the process of growing up as a people; mimicking our growing up as a human, as a child. We need to feel the pain of childhood to grow and become an adult. Perhaps, in fact, this is the essence of Pesach? The journey to be free? This is perhaps the deeper meaning of the struggle of the four sons?

So you want to know, why I hate Pesach? Because, confronting these real world ideas, is as real as it gets. When we talk about searching for chometz and getting rid of it, it means to not only rid ourselves of our physical chometz, but of our internal chometz. Our struggles and worries. To get rid of it, you have to look for it, find it, fix it and dispose of it. Now who wants to do that?

Having said that, I would not trade it in for anything. Once you have confronted your chometz, there is no better feeling than that. (Oh, and don’t worry, there will be a new batch of chometz right after Pesach.)

Blog 26/52 Picture credit beartales.me

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