This Pesach is very special to me. Last year, I cleaned my home and turned my kitchen for Pesach. I even had the second Seder(we had a community first Seder). The burden seemed incredible at the time. This year, the work is no less than last year. I even have the extra work of preparing my home for an out of town guest. But the work seems so much lighter and easier this year.
Maybe it is because I knew what to expect this year. But I don't think that is the reason. This is my first Pesach since my conversion mikvah on 17th of Sivan in 5767.
Last year, at this time, I was a bit resentful of all that needed to be done. I was also having doubts about my upcoming conversion. I mean, come on, I had to clear my cabinets of corn, rice, and other products?
Even before Pesach last year, I was having doubts about my decision to convert. One Shabbat I decided I wouldn't light the candles, I wouldn't say Kiddush, I wouldn't say hamotzi and I would treat Shabbat as any other day. I found myself bereft. I felt I had robbed myself of something special and fundamental to my being.
I had denied myself as Heschel beautifully states in The Sabbath:
When all the work is brought to a standstill, the candles are lit. Just as creation began with the word, "Let there be light!" so does the celebration of creation begin with the kindling of lights. It is the woman who ushers in the joy and sets up the most exquisite symbol, light, to dominate the atmosphere of the home.
And the world becomes a place of rest. An hour arrives like a guide, and raises our minds above accustomed thoughts. People assemble to welcome the wonder of the seventh day, while the Sabbath sends out its presence over the fields, into our homes, into our hearts. It is a moment of resurrection of the dormant spirit in our souls.
At this time last year, I was doubtful. As the time came closer to my conversion, relationships between family and friends changed. Some family members were resentful and others joyful. Friends generally supportive. Most asked questions. One family member would not ask questions. There are still times when this family member will walk out of a room if I am present.
I cannot erase the pain this family member feels. I can only hope that time will heal it. It does no good to try to discuss it. This family member will not discuss it under any circumstance. When the issue came up, my rabbi advised to let time take its course. It will be resolved when the family member is ready.
This Pesach, I feel free. Doubts are gone. The peace of Shabbat lingers for days after. The yoke of the mitzvot is light.