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Dirt and Dust are Not Chametz and Other Things We Can Learn This Week

| April 17, 2019
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Dirt and Dust are Not Chametz and Other Things We Can Learn this Week

I like to learn about other faiths and traditions, and have been enhancing my knowledge about Passover from Jewish colleagues and friends who are busily cleaning their homes for Passover this week.  During Passover, they cannot eat, own, or benefit from “chametz”, items that are “leaven” (foods made from wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt that are allowed to ferment and rise such as breads, cakes, crackers, beer, cereal, pasta). Homes are cleaned to remove all traces of chametz, so kitchens and places where food is consumed such as dining rooms and tables and chairs are cleaned thoroughly. Special dishes are used. Many tape their ovens shut and use a Passover only toaster/convection oven. Matzo, an unleaven bread like a crispy cracker, is eaten and many recipes are derived from it.

The good news, a friend told me, is that dirt and dust are not chametz. Spring cleaning is NOT the same as Passover cleaning - you don’t have to organize the garage, wash the car, tidy bedroom closets, make sure the laundry is all put away. Of course, as the same friend told me, if you are hosting the Seder, you typically do a lot of “company cleaning” just as you would for other times when you are hosting a gathering.

I was also interested in the Seder meal. There is a Seder plate consisting of traditional foods that help to tell the story of the Jewish exodus from Egypt. There are 2 bitter herbs representing the bitterness of Hebrew slavery, a sweet mixture representing bricks and mortar of the slaves who built the pyramids, a green vegetable representing hope and renewal which is dipped in a nearby dish of salt water to symbolize tears, meat such as a shank bone representing the Paschal sacrifice, a hardboiled egg representing the festival sacrifice, and next to the plate 3 matzos stacked and separated in between by a cloth. The Seder plate is used as a centerpiece on the table enabling each participant to see, smell, feel, taste and experience liberation. A special text, the Haggadah, is recited on the first two nights of Passover, which includes a narrative of the Exodus.  This is a beautiful, symbolic observance celebrating freedom as Moses led the Jews out of slavery in Egypt. I sincerely wish everyone celebrating this meaningful holiday a truly happy Pesach.

Whether or not you observe Passover, the spring is a time of renewal and liberation for all. If you were to select a symbol of your own liberation from something that was holding you back, what would it be? For many, it is fear. Getting started on any journey is tough and the first step is the hardest part. May we all have the courage and conviction to make the call,  schedule the appointment, sign up, move forward, enroll, or whatever else the first step is. May you remember the important journey being celebrated at tables all over the world this weekend and may the significance of the Seder plate be a visual reminder that yes, you can.

Todd A. Slingerland, CFP®

6 Tower Place Albany, NY 12203   (518) 867-4000 x105

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