I loved this article by Azriela Jaffe printed last year in Mishpacha Magazine and wanted to share it with you.
Pesach 2011 Lifetakes
I want to Cry
By Azriela Jaffe
My husband Stephen likes his maror very very hot. He grows his own horseradish,
planted from the crowns from the year before, and we are now accustomed to our
family Pesach ritual. At the precise time in the seder, Stephen chops himself a
pile of fresh, did I say, very, very, hot horseradish which he places in a pile
on top of his shmura matzoh. He offers the same to the rest of us. I always
pass, and our braver than me children take a smidgeon of it and place it on
their matzoh. And then, as my husband eagerly bites into his maror sandwich, we
all hold our breaths and pray. We watch him catch his breath, his eyes watering,
and the pain registering on his face. For one of the longest minutes I’ve ever
experienced, I watch Stephen survive yet again another torturous, self-inflicted
assault on his sinuses.
Every year, I ask myself, why does he do this to himself?
And every year, I know the answer, and I admire him for it. He wants to feel
pain. He’s not satisfied with his Pesach seder unless he’s cried real tears; the
horseradish gets him there.
I want to cry real tears at our seder. I want to feel close to those who have
come before me, to those who have sacrificed for me, to those ancestors who
stood at Har Sinai, and were willing to give up everything close and familiar to
I want to cry tears that aren’t from too much scrubbing, too little sleep, and
no extended family at our seder. I want to cry out because we are in golus,
because Jews in Israel and all over the world are suffering, because there are
boys in Japan still in jail, and Rabbi Mordechai Rubashkin is still locked up
and not spending Pesach with his family, and because there are so many unmarried
singles looking for a shidduch. I want to cry for the Meshulachim in desperate
circumstances who ring our doorbell late at night begging for dollars. I want to
cry for the Jews who don’t know Torah, and the Jews who once did and have turned
away. I want to cry for the young mothers who didn’t survive to raise their
children, and the young women who never experienced the joy of being a mother. I
want to cry for the impoverished, and the sick, and the unemployed, the victims
of domestic abuse, the Agunahs and Almonahs who cry alone.
I want to cry at our seder because when we say the words, “Next Year in
Jerusalem”, for me, they are just words. I don’t really mean it, and I don’t
really want it, and I want to cry from admitting that I am so comfortable with
my cushy American life, I can’t even pretend that I wish I were in Israel. To
visit, yes. Please G-d, oh, would I love to visit. To live, no. I’m very
comfortable in my American life, far removed from the slavery of my ancestors,
and equally disconnected from my brethren in Israel. I want to be brave enough
to take a bite of my husband’s maror, to cry copius tears, and to satisfy myself
that my heart has opened, and I have felt something, anything, please Hashem
connect me. Take me from my dining room table, in my cozy, New Jersey home with
paintings of Rabbeim and the Kosel on my wall, and transport me, so that I will
know that I am truly a link in a chain, extending through history, never to be
Next Year in Jerusalem.
I look at my husband, crying over his horseradish, and I envy his tears. His
pain is real. He is connected. And I know that he figured it out, how to live in
Golus, without losing track of who he really is, where he really belongs.
I’m not there yet. I’m not sure that horseradish will get me there, either. I
stand before you, Hashem, and I plead with you. Let me not go through another
Pesach seder alone. I am so enslaved to Western comfort and I have so far to go.
I am crying out to You now. Hear me. See me. Accept my prayers, and my tears.
Next year in Jerusalem.
Let my heart want it, believe it, accept it.
photo credit: photo-dictionary.com