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Pregnancy, Parenting, and Pesach – In The Narrow Moments

March 29, 2017

For roughly the second half of my pregnancy I was terrified about labor.  As I approached my due date, I explored many different tactics to help feel more calm when the actual moment of labor arrived.  Someone, though unfortunately I don’t remember exactly who, recommended humming a song during contractions.  I liked this idea and knew just the perfect song, one that had gotten me through other scary moments of my life, Rebbe Nachman’s “Gesher Tzar M’od.”  The words to this song translate as “The whole entire world, is a very narrow bridge, and the most important thing is to not be afraid.”


This word for narrow (tzar) that Rebbe Nachman uses to describe the realities of life, has the same Hebrew root as Mitzrayim, the word for Egypt.  It’s possible this term was coined as a physical description of Egypt.  However, another meaning of tzar is distress, and certainly the experience of being a slave is, not only “narrow” for there is no way out, but also a place of distress.  Mitzraryim has often been compared to the birth canal, for it is out of a narrow place of distress that the nation of Israel was redeemed as a free people.


As I imagined what my experience of labor would be like, I think I imagined a similar experience to that of the Israelites in distress in Egypt but then a redemptive experience at the end of labor.  My fear was for the labor itself, not the experiences of parenting that would follow.  Yet when “push came to shove” (pun intended), my experience was drastically different than I imagined.


Though nothing in my labor went according to our carefully crafted birth plan, aside from me humming “Gesher Tzar M’od,” the really scary moments for me emerged once I became a parent.  Who knew how terrifying night time could be, those few hours when I would put down my daughter to sleep and would pray that she would keep breathing.  And equally terrifying was being home ALONE with her during the day and feeling like I had no idea at all what I was doing.  Since becoming a parent, I have had far more moments of spiritual distress than any other moments of my life.  And, I have also had more spiritual highs as well.  It was not one large redemptive moment like I expected to experience with the birth of my child, but many small redemptive moments.


We are obligated on Passover to see ourselves as if we personally came out of Mitzrayim.  This Passover, I invite you to think about (and if you are really brave, to even share below) what have been your “tzar” moments of parenting?  And what have been the moments of redemption?


Photo Credit: Jennifer Wiggins Flickr via Compfight cc

Categories:Babies | Kids | Tots

Rabbi Amanda Schwartz recently returned to her hometown of Denver with her husband, daughter and dog after being ordained by The Jewish Theological Seminary of America where she also received a Masters in Jewish Educational Leadership. She is the Director of Education at the Hebrew Educational Alliance. She also teaches classes for Kevah and leads High Holiday services for Judaism Your Way.

Additional posts written by Rabbi Amanda Schwartz
Rethinking Sunday School
Our Daughter Won’t be Opening Presents After We Light the Menorah
How To Feel Connected To The High Holidays When You Can’t (or don’t want to) Go To Synagogue

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