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Parshot/Festivals

It may be tough, but Pesach sets you free

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It’s not like anyone should be able to point fingers. This year, with Easter Friday, Ramadan, and Passover all happening on the self-same day, it’s pretty much atheists and vegans who have a free pass. Which is ironic, given that Pesach is the festival of freedom. The rest of us are either fasting, eating too much, or searching under the flower beds for decorated eggs.

Between Jews, Christians, and Muslims, this Friday has most of the world busy with something.

It’s all wild. And fun. Unless you’re one of the those fasting. In which case, it probably isn’t – until sunset. But then, nor is cleaning the kitchen until the oven bleeds, washing curtains that have never seen a croissant, or tin foiling already boiled counter tops, just in case.

Observant people have too much time on their hands. Either that or they have realised that the rules, limitations, guidance, and rituals provide a sense of freedom that those who live without it don’t have. Which, once again, is something that should make no sense. And yet ask anyone who has chosen to do so, and they will confirm that it does.

Observant Muslims often describe the magnificence of the holy month of Ramadan. That it’s a time of charity, prayer, and kindness, and that as the month draws to a close, these rituals elevate spirituality. For Christians, Easter speaks of sacrifice, miraculous events, and affirmation of faith. And for Jews, the festival of Passover is one of the nation building, freedom, and renewal.

For all the observant it might be hard work in a physical sense, but the reward clearly makes it worthwhile.

Religious people know that they live their life with the limitations of their faith. They’re acutely aware that they are curtailed and that they have agreed to adhere to a system that is larger than themselves.

Ironically, in many cases the less observant, although curtailed, do so without recognising that they are. Social norms, fashion, political viewpoints, and a left-versus-right outlook often dictate a view and behaviour as much as religious adherence. Only without the knowledge that this is the case.

Take vegans for instance. Their rules include an obligation to confess their status within minutes of meeting people. It includes loudly proclaiming their faith at every meal. Facebook status must include the description, and every alternative post contain at least one of direct “grateful” description of a meal that served something green. Vegans might think they are free from the shackles of the devout, but they are more in chains than Tibetan monks.

Which is all the more reason to make peace with our rituals, to embrace our faith, and to celebrate the hell of the festivals that G-d has given us. Pesach might not be an easy festival for those armed with a blowtorch and Handy Andy. But I’m certain that much like Muslims during the month of Ramadan, like Christians on Easter, and like vegans at a braai, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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