This month of March is all about preparation. The weather is getting warmer, we’re starting to put away our sweaters, and flowers are thinking about blooming. Spring happens this month too and that often means “spring cleaning”. You know the kind—dusting the ceiling fans, emptying the toaster tray, reaching behind the dryer for lost socks. But what if your house is already clean?
I suggest then that we look at getting our homes and ourselves Passover ready. In order to know what that might look like, we need to do a quick review of the story of the Exodus.
First, the Egyptians, and Israelites, were warned of the plagues. But the Egyptians didn’t listen. Plague after plague came, and they still didn’t listen. The locusts weren’t discerning when they ate all the crops. The fiery hail was not isolated in its downpours. And when the sun was blotted out, darkness fell over everyone. For the final plague, in order to be spared, the Israelites had to put blood on their doorposts so that Death would passover their home. They had to do something. During our seder, we are told to be as though it were us coming out of Egypt—that we ourselves experienced both slavery and redemption.
I don’t know about you, but I have a difficult time picturing a swarm of lice, a frog infestation, or water turned to blood. So I need to think about what plagues are affecting our world today.
Perhaps rather than locusts destroying crops, we recognize deforestation as destroying the land. Or rather than water turning to blood (which makes it undrinkable), we look at the crisis in Johannesburg running out of water. Instead of Moses tossing soot into the air causing boils to erupt on everyone, we can acknowledge that there are diseases throughout our world which we can address (like cholera in Yemen).
From my perspective, a plague is something which negatively alters the relationship between humans and the environment. And we can take note from the Israelites and the final plague: take action. Our world is weeping, and it is up to us to alter that course of the future.
As we are going through our homes and our hearts this Passover season, we can find ways to take action. If you don’t eat chametz (leavening), think about donating those products to the pantry at IAM. As you’re sorting and tossing extraneous objects, think about recycling or upcycling them. There are so many methods for us to create and find our way to our own exodus of caring for our planet.
I hope we all have a joyous month of sunshine, springtime, and hope.
With prayers for abounding blessings,
Shalom Rabbi Rachael Jackson