C ostco has had matzah in stock for six weeks now, and since then it’s The Pit. The one in my stomach, because Pesach looms.

It’s not the cleaning and it’s not the cooking. It’s not about recipes, Ez-Off, cleaning ladies, matzah prices. It’s not vacuuming the car when it’s still cold out or getting the kids to stop dropping Cheerios all over the place. It’s not shopping or outfitting the kids. It’s not any of that. Those things — I can handle those things. They’re easy. They’re Normal People Problems.

My pit is formed by all the yeshivah guys coming home. The ads for communal chometz burning that we won’t be going to. All the Lakewood license plates that fill the parking lots and streets. The bochurim on line in all the stores, awkwardly picking out produce. The black hats everywhere. The presumption that everyone is on bein hazemanim time. The minyanim that other people’s kids apparently go to. The pizza shops full of Normal People doing Normal Things.

In this house, there are no more yeshivah guys and in this house there are no more black hats. The hooks that were hung in anticipation are empty, mocking. This house has bar mitzvah seforim and tefillin that collect dust — a silent, accusatory testimony of what was and is no longer. This house has no married couples coming from Lakewood or from anywhere else for that matter. This house doesn’t do avos u’banim; this house doesn’t do taanis bechoros. This house isn’t in bein hazemanim mode.

This house does “off the derech.” This house does apatheism and nonkosher food and boyfriends and girlfriends and chillul Shabbos (r”l). This house does miniskirts and bare heads. This house does “what will the future be?”

But—

This house does chesed.

This house does acceptance.

This house practices rachum v’chanun, erech apayim v’rav chesed v’emes.

This house stopped judging a long time ago.

This house does love.

This house is fiercely protective of its members.

This house does games and laughing and pizza and hot chocolate.

This house does cuddles and snuggles.

This house does healing.

This house looks past the externals to see the pain underneath.

This house allows each member to travel his journey without censure.

This house believes that lack of religious expression is a symptom of a fierce underlying struggle.

This house believes in the power of love.

This house believes in miracles.

This house believes that these souls are ours to nourish, to love, to cherish.

This house is proud of our family.

This house is burning out the yeast in the dough, the ego, every single day — Nissan and otherwise.

So, although Pesach looms, this I know: This house is ready for Pesach. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 537)