The kitchen seems like an appropriate place to begin because even though I just successfully finished washing (all of) the dirty dishes and wiping up the splattered stove and counter top, my kitchen is still basically a disgrace to housewives everywhere! It's small, cluttered with mail and recipes (and who knows what else), and the floor is always dirty even a few minutes after I mop it. But as Brooklyn apartments go, my kitchen is big and in good working condition, and for this I am grateful. (By the way, the kitchen to your left is NOT my kitchen.)
In preparing for Passover, the kitchen is probably the room in which most of the hard work has to be done. It's time to start going through the pantry, searching the labels for yeast and leavening agents, using up those items as soon as possible, etc. Last year around this time, I was asking my Rabbi (in FL) Ben, what exactly I had to 'throw out,' and he took the time to graciously explain to me that I needed to be careful not to miss the point of the Biblical commands concerning removing the leaven from your homes. While it is perfectly okay to physically get rid of the leaven in our homes, we also have to understand that in the Scriptures, leaven represents sin. What Passover is essentially about is starting anew, (the women who saved a portion of the leaven from their challah bread to make next week's challah rise would throw it away and start over after Passover) and purging the sin (leaven) from our lives. As a physical picture of this spiritual renewal, we are also commanded to abstain from eating leaven during the Feast of Unleavened Bread as well. (I will try to write more later about why believers should celebrate Passover and how it is celebrated.)
As I explained in my introduction, this series is less about cleaning our houses (although important) and more about renewing our hearts and lifestyles, so this above paragraph is most likely all I will mention about removing physical leaven. As the title suggests, the heart of this post is moderation, specifically moderation in eating. Perfectly timed, I received my March issue of Parenting magazine only to find an article that began like this: Raise your hand if you've ever been asked, "So, when are you due?"... after you've given birth (like, way after).
(read the article by going to: http://www.parenting.com/article/Mom/Health--Fitness/8-Flat-Belly-Foods) and just a few weeks earlier a dear man (at least he was in his 70s!) asked me if I was expecting another baby, and I had to say 'no' and we were both slightly embarrassed. It's been over 15 months since I delivered my daughter, over a month of her being weaned from breastfeeding, and I am all out of excuses for being unable to control my appetite! I believe the statement that "diets don't work," but I think that changes in lifestyle certainly do! So as I prepare for Passover, there are items that needs to be removed from the "kitchen" of my heart and many others in need of moderation.
Upon first arriving in Brooklyn and admiring my new kitchen, I was initially comforted by the fact that I was utilizing someone else's kitchen. I thought to myself, "I will have to keep it tidy and take good care of it because it's not mine. If the landlord ever stops by, his kitchen will be clean!" It was like built-in accountability, but regardless, there have many times when I didn't feel like washing the dishes (I thought it was difficult to keep up when I actually had a dishwasher), or sweeping the floor, because it was easier to just leave the mess until tomorrow... or the next day. Unfortunately, sometimes this is how we treat our own bodies, which do not belong to us either. Our bodies are the temple of the Spirit of the Living G-d, and should be treated as such. Therefore, there are really no excuses for not trying to eat healthy or get some kind of regular exercise. I am well aware that this journey will be a long one for me, but I hope to be sharing stories of success in the future. During this season of renewal, it's a wonderful time to begin taking better care of our bodies... to better worship the Spirit that dwells within...