Unexpected Lessons From A LEGO Passover

The Passover seder table explained.

This was an interesting Passover. In a way, each of them are unique events, but this one had a few things to make it stand out in my mind. Most prominently, the little vignette pictured above.

Doing Passover on my own has been challenging the last two years. It’s a family holiday, and currently I’m a family of one. Preparations for a Passover-for-one don’t really take that much, so there’s little of the hubbub I was used to in the weeks leading to the holiday. These last two years I’ve been able to do my cleaning in about a day or so, and even if I’m not being as super stringent as before, that’s still quite quick. The preparation used to be an exercise in patience for me, but it was also a way to mentally switch gears into the holiday, to ponder what we were doing, what it meant for me as a person and us as Jews. I didn’t get that these past two years. Until I decided to play around.

I’d seen a Passover seder table made out of LEGO bricks online and I decided I was going to make one of my own. Being fairly new to LEGO collecting, I didn’t have all the pieces needed, so I was going to order them. That meant I had to figure out my build piece by piece based on someone else’s photograph. In between all the cleaning, I sat down at my laptop, and started building my list of parts. About an hour later, it was done, the order was placed, and I went back to cleaning. The parts arrived in less than a week, I put the vignette together, and took lots of pictures. It made me happy. It wasn’t until I’d been through the two seders that I realized what I had truly done.

When I was at the seder on the first night, as I looked upon the seder plate, I was acutely aware of the various foods on it, on what their meaning was, on how they carried a message to me, to us all. It happened also with the matzah, the wine, the whole arrangement. For the first time in years, I was looking at the seder table in a whole new way, almost as if the little arrows I added to the photo above were appearing out of thin air as I looked around. What was going on? Then it hit me: the LEGO vignette. In order to build that little LEGO seder table, I did some serious research. Not only did I study the original build for parts ideas, I consulted about a dozen websites on the composition and meaning of the seder plate and its ingredients. In trying to determine which LEGO piece I would use to represent each part of the seder, I read about each item on the plate, the food item used, the meaning behind it. It wasn’t a simple follow-the-instructions, I made conscious choices for each piece, choices informed by studying the Jewish sources which spoke about it. As I sat at the seder on the first night and pondered all of this, I realized this had been my preparation, my way to switch my mind into the holiday. It seems silly, but it worked, it was real.

In a year where, for the first time ever, I broke Passover during the intermediate days (I got a nasty stomach virus that left me unable to eat or drink anything except Gatorade for two days), this realization brought me happiness and peace. My life is very different now from what I was two or three years ago, my practice of Judaism is very different now from what it was back then as well, but I’m still finding ways to connect, to be a part of. And there is always next year! I’m already thinking, what will I build then?

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