Moses called to all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Draw forth or buy for yourselves one of the flock for your families, and slaughter the pesach-offering.”
“It shall be that when you come to the land that Hashem will give you, as He has spoken, you shall observe this service. And it shall be that when your children say to you, ‘What is this service to you?’ You shall say, ‘It is a pesach feast-offering to Hashem, Who passed over the houses of the Children of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but He saved our households,'” and the people bowed their heads and prostrated themselves. The Children of Israel went and did as Hashem commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they do.
–Exodus 12:21, 25-28 Stone Edition Tanakh
Today is the first full day of Passover. Jews and a good number of Christians all over the world held their home and community seders last night.
My home wasn’t one of them.
For some months, my wife has been planning on visiting our daughter in California. She left early Sunday morning and won’t be back until midday on Thursday. My grandchildren are with their Mom for the next two weeks, so it’s really only my two sons and I at home. They weren’t exactly clamoring for their old man to dust off our haggadahs and start a lot of cooking.
Passover just sort of crept up on me and suddenly it’s here.
Pesach hasn’t felt this chaotic since the Uninspired Seder of 2012 or the Unanticipated Seder the following year.
And given my comments in my previous blog post, initiating any sort of response to Pesach as a Gentile believer is beyond the scope of my obligations or my rights.
It’s been a difficult time. My Dad is slowly dying of cancer. My Mom’s cognitive abilities continue to dwindle. And as the old time actors used to say, “I am between engagements,” and have been since last Friday. One of my sons had his car engine blow up on him, and the other is buying a house, which sounds wonderful (and in many ways it is), but also introduces different stressors.
I decided to at least do the readings for Pesach I, but when I couldn’t remember where to find my Tanakh on my bookshelf, I realized it has been a really long time since I’ve read the Bible.
That can’t be good.
A friend found a piece of furniture for my son’s new home (since his ex took most of their stuff), so driving over to the gentleman’s house to pick it up, I saw a number of “Jesus loves you” bumper stickers and messages of a similar nature. I figure everything that’s happening to me now is God’s way of getting my attention.
“This too is for the good.”
Or as Rabbi Zelig Pliskin put it:
No person can know what is really good for him in the long run.
We lack peace of mind because we feel anxious and worried about what has happened to us in the past, or what might happen to us in the future. But the reality is we can never know in advance the ultimate consequences of events. Being fired from your job, or being forced to find a new home could likely lead to events that will be beneficial for you.
Today, try to recall a time when a “bad” event turned out for the “good.”
I can remember when bad events ultimately resulted in a good outcome, but I also remember the pain involved in dealing with the bad part, and the lengthy time period between bad event and good outcome.
It can be a lonely road from the bad starting line to the good finish line.
But then as long as we live, there never really is a finish. We’re never done contending with life, with other people, disappointment, loss, anxiety, desperation, the works.
I suppose that’s why I’m writing this. I need to gain perspective and to get a handle of everything that’s happening to me right now. I probably should be doing more constructive things, such as cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, scouring job boards and the like, but I’m not.
On Friday, I initiated a flurry of activity post my “between engagements” experience earlier that morning, but over the weekend, the shock had worn off. I had my grandchildren with me, and since they require a lot of attention, that provided a distraction.
But then they left to return to their Mom Sunday afternoon, and I realized just how empty I felt inside.
Okay, God. You got my attention. Now I just need to find a way to change my focus, to even have a focus. A seder last night would have been good timing, which is why I’m puzzled that Hashem arranged for it not to happen.
My wife and my daughter are together, so I hope they had the opportunity to attend a community seder, perhaps at the Chabad.
The quiet finally got to be too much for me, so I started listening to “Sunday at the Village Vanguard” by the Bill Evans Trio. It was recorded live in New York City on June 25, 1961 (my daughter’s birthday, though she wasn’t born until decades later).
Over a month or so ago, I wrote about trying to jump start my faith, and as you can see, things haven’t gone so well up.
The prodigal son is still struggling on the path that leads to home.
At the end of each seder, the last words uttered are, “Next year in Jerusalem.” For me, I’d settle for “Next year at home with my family.”
Okay, God, you’ve got my attention. Now what?