“It’s an adventure!” This is one of our family’s favorite sayings. It comes in most handy when we’re lost on a trip, when our plans fall apart, when an arrangement unravels, when a flight is delayed etc., etc. More recently, we’ve expanded its usefulness to include any of many vicissitudes of life such as a machine malfunctioning, a merchandise order gone awry, a billing snafu – you name it, we seem to be experiencing so many “adventures.”
Perhaps the `mother’ of all “adventures” is Pesach. Whether you’re making Pesach at home and the refrigerator dies the day before Erev Pesach, you’re going to your in-laws up north and you realize once you’re checking in at the airport, (late, of course) that you left the little boys’ suitcase at home, or you’re being pampered at a hotel by your generous father-in-law and your children simply refuse to participate in any child care arrangement, the potential for “mega-adventures” is seemingly endless.
With the countdown to Pesach beginning in earnest, it would be most worthwhile to get some perspective on what our goals should be for ourselves and our children this holiday season. There is little doubt that we’ll make it to the seder at the right time and place, with Matza, wine and all the accoutrements in order, IY’H. But what will we be able to look back upon, when life returns to normal, when the last Pesach dish is put away? Have we become better people, more effective parents? We have to know going in, that the excitement and pressure of preparing for Pesach, the stress of getting to where we need to go, the tension that could easily surround a lengthy stay in close quarters with extended family are all Nisyonos, tests, that Hashem in His infinite love has designed especially for us to help us grow in our Midos. In conjunction with our great joy and celebration, Hashem is measuring our `midos muscles’, to see what shape they’re in, and giving us opportunities to stretch them.
How do we most effectively succeed at a Nisayon? We prepare beforehand. It’s inevitable that we’ll stand on line for 25 minutes at the grocery only to discover the main item we came for has sold out. If we’re traveling a long distance with a large family, we can count on something going wrong – clothing misplaced, flight delayed, or a pick-up arrangement fouled up. If we know beforehand something will go wrong, we don’t get so uptight about it. If we envision how we will (appropriately) react when something doesn’t go according to plan, Plan A that is, we’ll have a blueprint to rely on when our intellect starts to flee and our emotions take over. If we’re conscious about how we’re being judged on high for how well we keep our cool when things start falling apart, we can consciously lower the emotional temperature. If we view stressful episodes with a touch of humor and an “it’s an adventure” attitude, we will retain a measure of calm far beyond what we thought possible.
Pesach is the most glorious time of the year. Let’s focus on our true goals during this time and turn lemons into lemonade and disasters into learning and growing opportunities. Let’s think that if our favorite bowl breaks, our favorite recipe flops or our Kittel never made it into the suitcase, even if we can’t have our Pesach item, we will retain and strengthen our good midos and the positive role model that we are for our children. That is truth, that is eternity.
Best wishes for a restful Shabbos and a week of peaceful, positive, productive Pesach preparations,
Rabbi Kalman Baumann