Pessach is that time of the year that requires preparation. Hardly ever we get to the Leil haSeder 'empty-handed'. Even if you're not religious you can't escape to its atmosphere. The whole country gets prepared to the chag. The pre-Pessach period comes with cleaning, changes in cashrut, changing in eating habits (I'm afraid that, in Israel, this only applies to the ashkenazim)... It doesn't matter if you like it or not, your life is changed by Pessach much more than by any other Jewish holiday.
But what is this holiday all about? Is it just to make housewives into paranoid cleaners? Is it just about different kashrut concerns, selling chametz, and, of course, eating matza? Did we leave Egypt millenia ago so that in the 21st century would only be worried if the toothpaste is casher lepessach and when we'll start to eat on the Leil HaSeder? I refused to believe it was this way. It simply didn't enter my mind that it could be so. That's why, while I was crazy about cleaning my house, selling the chametz and at the Seder itself, I tried to get the most of these experiences. So I'd learn from them lessons that would be important for me after Pessach was gone.
Cleaning was the first step. And while I was getting rid of my chametz, I could see all the things that I thought were so important to me and I wouldn't be able to use them during Pessach. All of a sudden all the liquors, perfume and cosmetics I cared so much about would be sold during the holiday and returned to me only after it. Despite the fact that the leavened products are in a different area inside your own house, it's not yours anymore. Someone else owns all that things that being so dear to you, you had no courage to get rid of and still want to keep them for after the chag. Because you know that, regardless the uncertainty of life, after Pessach you'll definitely be dying for your good scotch, your fine perfume, etc... You don't even know what will be of your life after that seven days, but you're sure you'll need these things so much that's better keeping them for later. Many people don't realize how serious mechirat chametz (the selling of all leavened products owned by a Jew to a non-Jew) is. But truth is that if the goy to whom your shaliach sold your chametz decides to finish the sale and demands his property, he can. And then... bye bye to everything you saved for 'later'.
In a certain sense, our whole lives are like this. We run so much after so many things that most of times we can't even profit them all in our lifetime. We are always trying to keep more for later, when we have no idea of what 'later' really means. We care so much about things, we think we can't live without them. And one day HaShem shows that He's in charge, everything turns upside down and we are left without any of the things we used to praise and be so proud of. And guess what? Life goes on! And if you learn how to look at it with the correct lenses it can be even better. I can't help thinking that the real reason why we sell chametz is to show us that Someone Else is real owner of everything. You are just the keeper, the tenant. And after you are gone you'll be replaced by another person who'll be as attached to this world just like you have been before them.
This is just one of the lessons I learned during this very special period. During this week I'll try to share more of my own Pessach insights.