I absolutely love celebrating Passover.
The other day as I was listening to Howard Stern on his satellite radio show, he said something about the Passover holiday that made me scoff out loud.
He simply said, “There’s nothing normal about Passover.”
Since I was a young girl, I have always looked forward to celebrating this holy week with my immediate family. My late father, Peter, was the king of Passover Seders (meaning “order,” taken from the Hebrew language), and he was always the fellow who wore many hats—as the rabbi, cantor, philosopher, and prophet during our festive meals. I would help my mom in the kitchen to cook, clean, and prepare everything we needed to celebrate in style.
So when I heard Howard Stern express his opinion about Passover and how abnormal it is, I couldn’t help but think: this holiday is so normal and sacred and special to me. I would never label it as an abnormal occurrence.
Sure, there are certain festive foods that are served during the holiday that a large percentage of people find “off-putting.” Sure, there are customs and traditions that most people wouldn’t normally abide by during any other time of the year. But for me, Passover has been and always will be, a time of rebirth, joy, and clarity. It’s quite literally my favorite Jewish holiday, ever.
Here are five important lessons that I believe we can all abide by, thanks to this wonderfully festive and fun, week-long holiday:
1. Be open and receptive to change and try your hardest to lessen your stress levels.
The reason that Passover continues to be a stress-filled holiday in general is because of the preparation involved. The cleaning, the shopping, the cooking, the organizing—it’s enough to make you go batty if you don’t have a second or third pair of hands.
People are stressed to the max during Passover. I see it every single year, like clockwork. So, why oh why, do millions of people continually stress out, year after year? It always works out in the end when all is said and done. Enough of the intense aggravation and raised heart rates! There has to be a better way.
My mom is so skilled at preparing for Passover weeks in advance, so that as the date draws near, I’m more than happy to help her with cooking and cleaning so her stress levels don’t escalate.
Takeaway: learn to be less reactive, know that the stress will come and go, and all will be okay!
2. Don’t ever feel pressure to do anything that doesn’t fit your profile.
Okay, so Howard Stern did elaborate on his radio show when he said Passover wasn’t normal. He mentioned the traditional foods that one eats during the holiday, like Matzah (unleavened bread), that causes millions of people to have digestive issues and nasty bowel movements. He spoke of the amount of carbs that one ingests, how families recite prayers and sing songs and do certain things out of the ordinary. Okay, so what?
You don’t want to partake in something? Don’t do it.
You don’t want to be dictated to or told how to conduct yourself? Fine. Be a rebel.
Takeaway: never let anyone tell you how to live your life. You do you. That’s all there is to it.
3. Be mindful of your words and apologize when you’ve made an error in judgement.
We all say and do the wrong things on occasion. But especially on a holy day, please be mindful of how you speak to others.
I have one particular relative who sometimes doesn’t think before she speaks. I know she doesn’t mean to do it intentionally, but she has hurt people’s feelings in the past, and until she was finally confronted for it, she didn’t know she was being offensive.
After that, she changed her tune.
Takeaway: if you think something you say may be misconstrued, err on the side of caution. Saying nothing is sometimes the best road to take.
4. Celebrations are sacred. Appreciate the people who treat you well, love without explanation, nurture your soul, be grateful for small things.
This one is a whole lotta love wrapped into one sentence. During any festive holiday, I relish in my time spent with loved ones. It’s amazing; the pandemic shifted how we all celebrate gatherings of any kind, now.
But I, for one, am all about the people. It’s really not about the food (although food is what brings people together), but it’s about human connection. Getting off our f*cking phones and tuning back into what truly matters: the spirit of humanity.
Takeaway: connect, communicate, celebrate, repeat.
5. The signs to your ultimate joy are everywhere. Sometimes, if you just sit in silence and breathe calmly, things will start to become clearer.
Passover is laced with incredible symbolism, and it’s so rich in history. I derive so much joy from simply sitting at the table with my family, singing songs, laughing, sharing stories, eating amazing fare, reminiscing.
I realized that this is where my true contentment lies—in knowing I have a strong lineage, a beautiful home, a loving group of people in my corner, and a true sense of accomplishment in my life, thus far.
Takeaway: write down 100 things you are grateful for. It may take you 30 minutes or more to come up with your specific list, but I recently wrote down my list of 100 things, and let me tell you, it was an amazing exercise.
Life is beautiful, ain’t it?
Passover for me = every normal and wonderful thing I can think of!
I hope these lessons resonate with you too, and if you’re celebrating Passover this week, I wish all of you a Chag Kasher V’Sameach!