Passover signifies a metamorphosis within the Jewish people. They go from serving as slaves in Egypt to being free men and women wandering the desert. After fleeing, they faced an incredibly grueling but rewarding journey ahead of them that led to Mount Sinai and eventually their emergence into the Land of Milk and Honey. The forty years in the desert were filled with trials and tribulations, and the Jews made many sacrifices so they could move forward.
When hardships happen, it is easy to crawl into your safety net, because that is what you believe will be your protection. For the Jews, Egypt was their comfort zone even when times were strenuous. When we are struggling and it feels like the world is against us, how do we break the barrier and move past those thoughts? How do we say to ourselves it is time to forge ahead and be free? We remember the manna.
When the Jews ran out of the food they had brought with them on the long journey in the desert, they became angry and started to think their life in Egypt was the better option. Many people wanted to go back, because they feared the unknown. They figured even though Egypt was horrible, at least they knew what was expected of them there. Moses encouraged them to keep walking, because he had faith G-d would have a plan. He proved to be right when manna, a flaky substance similar to a wafer, came down from the sky in the amount a person would need to feel full.
To me, manna symbolizes all of the Jewish people’s wants and desires. Wandering the desert, the manna was their purest form of hope. It provided the sustenance to keep going, even when they just wanted to stop. We can apply that symbolism to today. Life is not easy. It is full of challenges just like the Jews faced. Sometimes it seems easier to hold onto your past, because beginning a new path can be terrifying. My challenge to you this Passover is to find your manna. Discover what or who pushes you forward when you feel like you cannot take that leap of faith. Find someone or something that brings you hope and pushes away the darkness so you can step into the light.
Marisa Papell, a recent graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, is fascinated by the interconnection between cooking and Judaism. Food has been a powerful tool in Marisa’s life, reminding her to enjoy the little things that bring her joy, hope and peace.