While preparing for Passover the last few weeks—making enquiries about how to kosher a stove and lists of kosher for Passover products—my head has in fact been elsewhere.

I’ve been trying to figure out howThe last year has been a journey of introspection Passover really fits into my life. You see, the last year or so has been a real journey of introspection: I’ve faced the fact that I am an addict and I have started to work the 12 steps of recovery, in the hope that I will achieve freedom from my disease and a closer connection to my higher power, G‑d.

It dawned on me the other day that my journey closely reflects the 15 steps we take at the Seder—15 steps to freedom from our limitations, bringing us closer in our relationship to G‑d. And I realize, as I enter Passover, I need to internalize the steps of the Seder, using the tools and lessons I have learned in recovery, so that I can achieve true freedom, because the message of Passover and the message of recovery are intrinsically intertwined.

  1. Kadesh—we make kiddush, sanctifying the holiday by bringing G‑d into it. I need to realize, every second of every day that G‑d runs the world. He has created me and has chosen my struggles for me. As hard and insurmountable as those problems may seem, He is with me as I go through them, by my side to help me. I need to invite Him in, trust Him, and hand over to Him. If I view my life, my struggles, and my successes as G‑d-given, I have the G‑d-given power to succeed through them and reach greater heights.
  2. Urchatz—we wash our hands without a blessing. Life’s full of dirt that needs washing. When there is any unpleasantness between myself and another, I clean my side of the street and only focus on what I have done wrong. I do not require the other person to clean their side or apologize. That’s up to them. I keep quiet and worry about what I have done.
  3. Karpas—we dip a vegetable into salt water. Us addicts use our addiction of choice to ensure that we don’t taste the bitterness. We drink, smoke, take drugs, eat, etc. to stay “happy” and dull the bitterness of life. On Passover we are forced to dip in salt water—in tears, in emotion, in hard feelings. To face them, work through them, and no longer dull them. Only through doing so can we truly overcome our bitterness.
  4. Yachatz—we break the middle matzah. In recovery we learn to break our egos. I have to realize that I cannot do this alone. I hand over to G‑d and invite His help on my journey. I follow His guidelines. My ego has gotten me into this bad space; His direction will get me out.
  5. Maggid—we tell the story of leaving Egypt, Mitzrayim, which shares the same root as the word meitzarim, limitations. The only way I can recover is by sharing my story, my struggles, with my sponsor. She shares the tools she has used to help her recover, so her history becomes my guide and her learning my learning. Just as we relive the story of our ancestors becoming free, through hearing the stories of my sponsor and other fellow addicts I become inspired to change, so that I too can can move forward and experience freedom.
  6. Rachtzah—we wash our hands again, this time with the blessing. When I clean myself out by looking deep inside and doing an inventory of my character defects, I speak to G‑d and ask Him to help me scrub away my flaws so I can be my best self and be of service to others.
  7. Motzie—we say the blessing on the matzah. Before I eat, I thank G‑d for the food in front of me. I become mindful of the blessing before me.
  8. Matzah—we eat the matzah. We eat the humble pie. We realize we are powerless, that we cannot achieve anything on our own. We need G‑d. We need His direction. We thrive by doing what He wants.
  9. Maror—we eat the bitter herbs. We realize we will have bitter moments where we make mistakes again, where we fall, where our side of the street is not clean, but then…
  10. Korach—we eat the matzah and maror sandwich. Just as a sandwich has something inside, when we do fall, we look deep inside, see how we contributed, and fix it immediately. We do not wait for it to fester and grow.
  11. Shulchan Orech—we eat the festive meal. We enjoy our new selves in recovery. WeLife becomes manageable and joyful enjoy the fruits of our labor as life becomes manageable and joyful.
  12. Tzafon—we eat the afikoman, the last bit of matzah. We eat humble pie again. We realize that we are one second away, at all times, from ego—from edging G‑d out. So we ensure that we are constantly eating the humble pie again and again, by working the steps, by doing what G‑d wants, so we don’t go into ego and relapse.
  13. Berach—we say Grace After Meals. We make sure to express what we are grateful for on any given day so that we do not lose track of the gift of recovery that G‑d has bestowed upon us.
  14. Hallel—we sing praise to G‑d. We pray and meditate daily, thanking Him for our recovery and affirming that we are here to carry out His will.
  15. Nirtzah—next year in Jerusalem! Next year, we will be in a space of complete freedom for everyone. Next, we will help others who are suffering so they can also experience a life of freedom, recovery, and redemption. And through helping them, we reach our own ultimate freedom and redemption.

May we not have to wait for next year. May it be this year. A Passover of true freedom in recovery.