It wasn't the first time that I was struck by the brilliance of my creator. I just didn't expect that epiphany to come while in the throes of pre-Passover pressure.

There are forty minutes to the deadline to get rid of all remaining chametz. I commandeer the kids, assigning rooms, brooms and vacuums. I run about frantically. The chametz from breakfast to be stashed away. The table and chairs to be scrubbed down. The bread pieces found last night at the official "search for the chametz" to be readied for burning. Weeks of intense labor have brought us to this moment. There is so much to do, so little time, and failure to finish not an option.

And this is when the thought first occurs to me. What an incredibly easy religion. I don't say it aloud; to do so would elicit hostile stares from all the exhausted people in the room. They're all thinking, "I can't do this anymore, this is insane, remind me next year to move to Antarctica." My body feels close to collapse as well, but my mind is thinking, Man, He is one smart G‑d.

The forty minutes are drawing to a close and we gather around the fire to see the final stage in the banishment of chametz from our homes, and to recite the prayer banishing the chametz from our hearts. The brief lull brings the realization of this as the apex of our labors, and there is a light in the eyes of my family that isn't just a reflection of the dying flames.

Through the ages of human existence, the common theme has been the endeavor for self-improvement. The true path to this was debated first by the ancient philosophers, and now by the authors of the self-help books that populate the best-seller list. Do we better ourselves through abnegation, sublimation, or surrender? Should we work to reject, accept, or transform? Every theory, philosophy and theosophy comes with the path to align yourself with its truth, an x-step program, always an internal process, an inner journey that will bring you to your optimum self.

And then there's Judaism, unchanged and unchanging for over three millennia, that teaches theory and philosophy and inner journeys, but demands action. Passover represents the freeing of the soul from the things which clog it up and obstruct its brightness. How do we do that? By meditating about it? Sure, that too. But mostly with back-breaking, hand-chaffing labor. The physical kind.

How does this replace the spiritual journey? It doesn't. It takes the spiritual journey out of heaven, and makes it real by bringing it down to this world. I can sit and contemplate for hours, but when all is said and done (or rather, thought) I know I remain, essentially, unchanged. But then I take a physical broom and chase the chametz from my room, use my physical hands to clean, my physical body to do. And day by day, I feel the chametz being chased from my heart.

On the morning before Passover, the fire I see in the eyes of those around me is the light of the liberated soul.

When we watch the flames devouring our chametz, we see the devouring of the chametz in our souls. When we recite the kol chamira, the prayer in which we disavow all chametz, it isn't an empty prayer. It has been earned by weeks of sweat, has been made part of us. And it's real.

And that's why this religion is so easy. Because it's possible.