Happy Pesach! As I was busy cleaning today, my four year-old son, Yigal, asked why I was taping a black trash bag over the shelves of the pantry. So I explained that the Torah tells us “You may not see any chametz (leaven bread) throughout Passover” (Exodus 13:7). Iggy says, 'Well, we can just hide it behind the couch!' And I replied 'But then when we look for the afikoman, we might find chametz!' To this, he said 'OK. Keep taping up the pantry, Abba.'
This reminds me of an overall aspect of religious life: that which is seen, and that which is unseen. Specifically, God. God appears to our patriarchs in visible form. God shows Godself to Moses. The Israelites in the desert during the Exodus witnessed a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire at night, symbolizing God's protection. And the offering Jews brought on Passover to the holy Temple at Jerusalem for nearly a thousand years? It was called an 'Appearance' offering.
Nothing like it exists for us. Today, God doesn't manifest in physical form, or in mystical flame. And we don't even get to prove our own piety to God through an appearance offering.
The very hiddenness of God in our lives sometimes tests our faith: for some, in large ways that cause them to question God's very existence, and for others, in smaller ways, like a feeling of sadness at a moment of misfortune or struggle. Like the afikoman, though, God asks that we seek a little bit in order to find.
Passover all comes to remind us that it is not all about what you see. Many manifestations of God: hope, joy, love, and - most important at Pesach time - freedom; are not physical or seeable phenomena. They are known intimately without our eyes ever passing over them. We still need to look for them, though. We know God through the coming together of our community at this time, and at our rejoicing at becoming free 3000 years ago. This freedom was so profound that it is still worth celebrating today. Passover reminds us that human freedom is the strongest proof that God is real; stronger than anything our eyes alone could see.
Chag Sameach to all.