By Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer
As we head into the final stretches of Pesach preparation, we anticipate the tension increasing: so much to do, so little time to do it, and to squeeze it all into very set time frames – and then staying up quite late for two Sedarim in a row. It is real “crunch time” and a period that affords little sleep, and we know that even after the all Pesach preparations are completed, we still cannot really relax until the second Seder is over – and things will still be busy then.
As much as we gear ourselves to the fact that all of this work is for the sake of mitzvos – and that being busy with Pesach is exactly what Hashem wants of us, for we are indeed fulfilling our goals as Jews as we go through it all – there is nonetheless always the “oh no, Pesach is almost here – I am exhausted just thinking about all the work” sentiment that is hard to escape. It is a natural reaction, reflective of the human condition.
As we grow older and contemplate long-term, we feel a desire to hold on to moments and to feelings of vitality that we realize will not last forever – and this includes Pesach preparation and observances. We know that our bodies will no longer have the same strength to do marathon shopping trips and schlep hulking loads of groceries long distances, or to move massive furniture and appliances, as we then crawl tightly between objects and nimbly scrub and search out chametz. We will no more be able to deftly pack in all of the k’zaysim of matzah and marror within a rushed time span, and remain awake until the wee hours of the morning. We will no longer have the patience to wait for every person at the Seder to “say his thing”, tarrying for hours with almost no food in our system, and to then recite Hallel with exuberance or even alertness, as we feel bombed-out from sleep deprivation and impel ourselves to perform.
Yet, once we no longer can do any of these activities, we will long for the day when we could do them. We will reminisce about our how we prepared for Pesach and observed it “in the old days”, as we rushed crazily, carried loads like weightlifters, barely slept for weeks, and pushed ourselves in every which way like super-humans. We will know that we would do anything in the world to again be able to prepare for Pesach and observe it as in our younger years, as our former selves. We will long for such times; we will miss them incredibly. (Not to mention the people with whom we celebrated Pesach, for even those who at times really annoyed and irritated us will be missed. We will wish that they could still be at the Seder with us, despite their occasional antics and unpleasantries.)
And even then, we will be forever thankful for being able to get to each Yom Tov and to perform its mitzvos, within our limited abilities. As others pass on, we will be ever so appreciative to still be here and to experience yet another Moed, or to fulfill another seasonal mitzvah as best as we can, even if it is not the way we used to do it. We will recite Shehecheyanu with increasingly more kavanah, and maybe with tears, as we are grateful for every occasion in the Luach that we live to see once more.
Let us be exceedingly thankful for the zechus to be able to use our strength to serve Hashem. Let us appreciate today how we exert ourselves to the max and are able to perhaps perform to a superlative degree, all for the most holy purpose of doing the will of our Creator and thereby coming close to Him, even if we feel totally distracted and worn out through the frantic and exhausting preparations. Let us cherish these moments and not seek to be unburdened of them, for we will profoundly yearn for them once we no longer have them. Let us thank Hashem that we have the koach and life to serve Him with every fiber of our being. Let us relish each moment and ounce of energy with which we are gifted, and grasp and treasure every Pesach and other observance that we live to experience.
Baruch shehecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higi’anu la-z’man ha-zeh.