Last night I woke up many times.
In part due to the heavy rains, and in part because I was listening (even in my sleep) for my phone to indicate a tornado warning.
On the edge of dreams, I was ready to wake my wife, rush upstairs to grab the kids and dogs, so that we could all take shelter in the basement.
It turned out to be, thank God, an uneventful night despite my fitful sleep.
Recently I read about a psychologist who was presenting to a group. She held up a drinking glass, and proceeded to fill it up halfway with water. She then, dramatically, showed it to the group and asked them what they thought would come next. “Is the glass half full or half-empty?” was the prediction.
“Not my question,” the psychologist replied. “My question is, how heavy is it?”
The group began to guess, “1/2 pound, ¾ pound…”
The psychologist corrected them. They were answering how much is weighed, but what she wanted to know is how ‘heavy’ is it?
She went on to explain. If the glass half full of water were held up for a brief moment, the answer is ‘not so heavy.’ If she had to hold it up for an hour, her hand would be begin to cramp, and her arm would begin to shake. If she had to hold it up for an entire day, that glass of water would feel like a ton of bricks. Holding onto something without letting it go gets harder and heavier with time.
Passover is right around the corner. Last year, Pesach was almost traumatic as we adjusted our beloved rituals to the scary necessity of physical distancing in the face of Covid-19. For all who appreciate the seder table, clearly last year marked a ‘loss’. For we all know that the number of sederim with those whom we love is limited. To lose even one…
Last year, as we sang mah nishtanah from separate homes, at best over Zoom, we knew that we were at the beginning of a long year to come.
This year, at Passover, we know that we are towards the end of a year marked by longing and loss, uncertainty and burden.
The seder plate has symbolism that is supposed to aid us in both telling, and understanding, The Story. The Karpas, usually expressed as parsley, represents the bitter times of the past to be dipped into the salt-water tears. But it also is meant to represent Spring, a new season, and a verdant hope.
We can hold two feelings at once: remembering our past, and the oppression we experienced laced with sadness and sorrow; but also the hope that comes with new life, vaccines, and the sun-rise after a long night of storm.
I look forward to “seeing” you tomorrow night at Shabbat services.