Shabbat Hagadol: Preparation as Worship

I know that we are all preparing in our own ways for Pesach. Preparation is a huge part of Judaism. We prepare for Shabbos every week, and we prepare for all yomtovim. For Pesach we prepare the most. Not only do we have to buy ritual items, we also have to clean our homes from top to bottom of chametz. Some people I know start already at Chanukah! We also recite brachot before performing many mitzvot, and commentaries explain that saying a prayer serves as preparation to do the mitzvah with proper kavvanah. For many the preparation may feel like a burden, and I want to offer a new perspective.

In the time of the Beis Hamikdash, the kohanim had to wash their hands and feet prior to performing their service. According to the halacha they had to place their hand on their foot and wash them together. Rabbis of the Talmud thought that this “gymnastic” maneuver would be awkward and ungainly. They asked whether it would be permissible for the kohanim to sit on the ground to wash their hands and feet in the required manner. The answer was no. The service of the kohanim had to be done while standing and so did the preparation. The preparation was considered service.

On Pesach we wash Urchatz, commemorating the preparation the kohanim did before their service. I suggest that our preparations for Passover can and should be looked at in the same way. When we are cleaning, cooking, shopping, changing over, schlepping dishes up and down the stairs… we can view it all as part our serving Hashem. There is as much holiness in our preparation as there is in conducting the seder.

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