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Thursday, April 8, 2010


I still haven't broken Passover. And I'm kind of cool with that.

(Okay, I sort of promised myself as I sat down to write that this wasn't going to turn into a my-Passover-was-cooler-than-yours post. I'll try to keep it that way. But it still might.)

A few years ago, when I was living in Israel, I went out to lunch with a bunch of folks. This was two, maybe three weeks after Passover ended. My friend B., who's kind of a spiritual giant and lives on a different plane of existence than the rest of us -- he routinely takes half an hour or longer to pray the (usually 3-minute) mincha service -- happened to mention, while we passed around the wicker bowl of laffas, that he hadn't broken Passover yet.

This was soundly greeted by a round of "Whut?!"s from the table.

B. explained. It's not that he was purposely prolonging Pesach (say that three times fast) -- he just wanted to hold on to the feeling. He didn't even say that. What he said was much more subtle, and much more wise. Something about how going from from chometz to bread, was a single huge step, like going from slavery to freedom, and if we do it all at once, we miss the full spiritual experience.

Caveat #1: Not everyone has the patience (or the space in their lives) for a full spiritual experience like that -- and most of us need to dive back into our bread. I was going to make a salad for lunch today, but I didn't have time, and so I grabbed a bagel from the freezer, slathered on some cream cheese, and made my train in time. But yesterday I packed Passover leftovers, and I was feeling pretty damn good about it. (Caveat #2: my wife is a personal chef, which most people aren't -- and hence, my lunch of manchego gratin and ratatouille was probably not most people's Passover experience. Gloat gloat gloat.)

People like B. amaze me, not because they have spiritual experiences, but because they have such a talent for making spiritual experiences last. For me, I have a great morning prayer, or hear a great song, it's gone the moment I step out the door and the angry Brooklyn traffic crashes me down to reality. Sooner or later, I know real life is going to sink in -- and, with it, the hametz.

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