This week’s mitzvah Monday is about adding meaningful customs or traditions to our lives. The night before Passover (sounds like the lead in to a Christmas song) when I have been working to thoroughly cleanse my house for several weeks and tried to remove every piece of bread and leavening we possess (well hopefully) we observe a family tradition that while customary is also quite fun. We started observing this custom many years ago when my daughter was a toddler. We gather in the dining room and make a short blessing thanking God for his commandments and commanding us to remove the chametz from our house.
I think of this custom as a family version of hide and seek. Before we say the blessing, I have hidden pieces of bread wrapped in paper bag material throughout our living room and dining room. Then my kids and I walk through the house with a candle for light and a feather to pick up the last remaining pieces of bread and officially declare any other bread left in our house that we haven’t found yet null and void – whew that takes care of anything later found in jacket pockets or somewhere else I might have overlooked. I love the symbolism of this last preparation for Passover as well as the fun it provides our family while we “search” by candlelight for the bread.
I often compare preparing for the Passover holiday to my gentile friends preparing for Christmas because there is so much expected as we approach this spring holiday, including cleaning, switching regular dishes for Passover dishes, shopping and cooking. But by the time we reach the search for the chametz I am ready. Both spiritually and mentally, ready to tell the story of the Exodus of the Jews from the land of Egypt, ready to eat some matzah and experience another year of Passover with my family and friends. Creating new traditions with our families can be as easy as learning about something we didn’t know existed and adding it to our routine.
Choosing to start a new custom in our lives, shouldn’t be overwhelming. Growing up, my family didn’t observe this search for the chametz, but as a young mother somehow I added this custom to our family and have always thought it was fun for the kids. This is the perfect season to start a new holiday tradition since Passover and Easter are both this week. A couple of great suggestions are collecting tzedakah (charity) right before your holiday meal to donate to your families favorite non-profit, or making a blessing before or after a meal, additionally you could make a blessing over your children and let them know something you are proud of that they have done that week. We typically do this on Friday night but any night of the week could work. Whatever custom you decide to add to your life, find one that is meaningful and adds joy when you do it. For me, the yearly custom of Bidikat Chametz makes me smile each and every year and why shouldn’t it, who doesn’t love any version of hide and seek?
Wishing everyone a wonderful spring holiday season.