Monday, March 29, 2010

Holidays as a reminder of prosperity

Lior and I are hosting the Passover seder this year. Passover is a Jewish holiday where families sit around the dining table for hours eating multiple courses of food while telling the story of the emancipation of the Jews from slavery in Egypt to freedom – or rather forty years of life in the desert – but no matter, it was still freedom.

Preparations for the holiday are arduous - from the thorough cleaning and de-cluttering of the home to the changing of plates and eating patterns to cooking delicious meals without any hametz, or leavened bread.

Matzah is a central point of the holiday. As the story goes, Moses worked hard to convince the Egyptian Pharaoh that he should let the Jews go from slavery. The Jews knew that Moses was working on it, and that he planned to take them on a journey out of Egypt to the land of Israel once the Pharaoh gave the go-ahead. The Jews needed food for the trip and so they were in the middle of baking bread when they received word that they had to leave quickly. It happened so quickly that they didn’t have enough time to let the bread rise. And so today, we eat matzah, and not leavened bread, as a reminder of the hardships that the Jews went through for our freedoms today.

I couldn’t help but feel a bit sad this year as I realized that I wouldn’t be able to eat matzah at the Passover table since I have celiac disease, an allergy to wheat, rye, and barley.

Some people love matzah, but I’m not a big fan – it’s dry, breaks easily, and not the greatest for digestion. I was veering away from matzah in the last few years anyway since it makes my blood sugars go really high as well.

But of course, I suddenly began romanticizing the whole concept of matzah probably since I couldn’t have it. This past week I was lamenting over the matzah brie that I wouldn’t be eating (fried matzah usually eaten with maple syrup).

Then, I read a quote in the March edition of Diabetes Forecast: “Focus on what to eat instead of what not to eat.” (p. 16)

A nerve was struck: This reminder came in real handy as I discovered that a box of gluten-free matzah is really hard to find, and when you do, it costs a whopping $30 a box. And it reminded me of what we do have: We did find gluten-free matzah ball mix (made from potatoes). Isn’t the matzah ball soup the best part anyway? But even more than the matzah, we are having multiple courses of absolutely delicious food.

And of course, I couldn’t help but extend that principle to all things – not only food – focus on what you do have, not on what you don’t. Seems like a formula for prosperous living!

So why was I focused on the one thing I couldn’t have? I suppose you can say that it’s human nature. Rather than looking at all the things that we do and can have, it’s natural to think about the one thing we can’t.

Whether you celebrate Passover or not, let’s allow the holiday to serve as a reminder that we are free. We are free to choose our thoughts and focus on the prosperity in our lives!

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