The Unopened Gift: Family Togetherness on Passover

The Unopened Gift: Family Togetherness on Passover

One of my favorite writers, a frum mother and introvert, recently shared that her idea of a perfect vacation would be several days spent at a remote ski lodge with a pile of books, ON HER OWN. I let out a wicked, secret giggle. Yep, I can relate.

Do not get me wrong. I love my family, I love spending time with them. This seder night, I guarantee you, I will look around my seder table and feel a tidal wave of nachas and wonder at this magnificent Weisberg family Hashem has blessed me with.

But, for me, all this holiday togetherness can also be draining..

That means part of me is looking forward to Passover, and part of me is wishing it was already the morning after, asking my 4-year-old’s ganenet how her Pesach was. This is the same part of me that is loving these minutes typing away at my keypad, thinking my own thoughts, behind a locked door, with nobody saying “Eeema!!! Can I have a cup of milk? Eeeema, Yaakov hit me! Eeeema, when are you taking me to the store like you promised?”

And all of these mixed feelings are why Mrs. Miriam Swerdlov’s class on the Chazak Hotline this year made me cry so hard. It touched me so deeply that I just had to listen to her powerful words again, and share them with you…:

Miriam Swerdlov said:

“In life, we mothers rush through things.

“This past Shabbos we hosted lots of our children and grandchildren for a sheva brachos. B”H, the kids are growing older, and all of a sudden that granddaughter who was crawling is now walking, and that other granddaughter who was just sitting is now crawling.

“And we blink once, and it’s over, and the kids are running, bli ayin hara!

“And that’s how life is in general, we try to rush through everything…

“But I’m telling you, don’t push. Enjoy the moment. Even erev pesach. Enjoy the moment.

“I cleaned up the toy corner yesterday, It looks so beautiful. I just wanted to sit and look at it.

“Enjoy your work. Enjoy what you’re doing. Enjoy the results. Enjoy the moment. After you finish doing something, sit down with a hot drink and sit down and savor the time. Don’t rush through things. Time passes so fast.

“This week I opened my Pesach notebook with all the things I need to do and buy, and I looked at years past and was sorry they’re gone.

“Did I appreciate those years when all the kids were home? Most probably not. Most of my kids are now on shlichus [emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe at Chabad Houses around the world], and now they’re not home. Some of them are. But wow, what it was like when everyone was home. I was rushing too.

“Here’s a beautiful poem I wanted to share with you:

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round,
or listened to rain slapping the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight,
or gazed at the sun fading into the night?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

Do you run through each day on the fly,
when you ask “How are you?”, do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed,
with the next hundred chores running through your head?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

Ever told your child, we’ll do it tomorrow,
and in your haste, not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch, let a friendship die,
’cause you never had time to call and say hi?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere,
you miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,
it’s like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life isn’t a race, so take it slower,
hear the music before your song is over.
(by David L. Weatherford)

“And so I tell you, this Passover, enjoy it, revel in it.

“I’m wishing for you to savor the moment. I’m telling you when I opened my Pesach book with notes from a year ago, and three years ago, and 10 years ago, and 15 years ago, I thought “Where have all the flowers gone?”

“Stop pushing the time. Stop it. Enjoy the moment. Today.”


  1. This is an excellent piece.
    Thanks for this wonderful article.

  2. How can I hear this shiur?

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