Rabbi's Corner: Leaving the Narrow Place



Usually in the days leading up to Passover, I find myself in a frenzy of shopping and menus, cleaning and planning, and a general organized chaos. I have time to prepare. Usually I spend the weeks leading up to Passover narrowing our food options to clean out chametz from my pantry and closing down spaces in the house from food after I’ve done my cleaning. This year is anything but usual.
Weeks before Passover, I found myself buying lots of chametz so that I could feed my kids food they liked instead of tantrums because we ran out of their favorite snacks. I’m not rushing to stores to buy food and cleaning feels futile since we’re all stuck in this house all day, every day. I clean and five minutes later the mess has returned. And, so much feels unknown.
I don’t like the unknown. I don’t like living in this limbo space we’re in. And, the first Passover, that time when the Israelites were getting ready to leave Egypt, was also filled with unknown. Like us today, they didn’t know what lay ahead or how they were going to survive. They didn’t have a master plan to guide them or a clear picture of how it would all turn out. But they did have community, and they had faith in God.
We as a people have been there before, and we’ve come out OK. This is the story of leaving Egypt – 40 years in the desert, 40 days in our homes – but we’re going to walk out of this desert together.
Egypt in Hebrew is called Mitzrayim, literally, from the narrow place. We are in a narrow place right now. Our connections come via internet and 6 feet of distance, and yet, the internet brings us an open expanse of community. This year we are here, next year in the wide-open expanse. 
With blessings for a year of expansion of our circles, of our hearts and our community, and the renewal that comes with spring.

Rabbi Eve Posen is president of the Oregon Board of Rabbis and associate rabbi at Congregation Neveh Shalom.


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