I want to talk to you all about Passover. Specifically about finding and ridding yourself of chametz – those errant crumbs of leavened products hiding in your otherwise spotless homes.
But before I tell you all how to clean up, I need to come clean about something myself: I am not perfect.
I know, I know. It’s hard to accept. I just learned about my flaw recently, and I’m reeling from the discovery as much as I’m sure you are. But I’m afraid I am not the paragon of perfection we all thought I was. I am a mere mortal. A mortal with a bum molar.
Yes, dear, disillusioned world, I have a cavity.
Despite sterling dental hygiene, I managed to allow a bit of my bottom left molar to decay to the point where a dentist will have to … well, she’ll have to do whatever it is the rest of you foul-mouthed humans do when you have cavities. I’m not sure, as I have no experience in this.
When I asked my dentist how this could have come to pass – how someone with obviously fantastic dental genes and fanatic cleaning rituals could have succumbed to plaque and tooth decay, she answered my question with a question: “When was the last time you visited the dentist?”
Before I answer that, let me first say that I’ve been busy. It takes a lot of work, this being perfect business, and I don’t always have time to devote to small maintenance projects like regular dental appointments and oil changes.
Also, there is an implicit understanding in the very nature of being perfect that one does not need anyone else poking around her mouth, looking for faults and flaws. Right?
Well, that’s where the chametz comes in. As we know from our annual Passover cleaning shtick, the search for chametz involves not only the rubber-gloved woman of the house (and her beleaguered housekeeper); it also involves children wielding feathers and candles. Those tiny little hands are supposed to sweep in the corners where larger hands can’t always reach.
And, invariably, they turn up something! A fallen bit of Pirate’s Booty. The crushed remains of a graham cracker. True, children are almost always the cause of the hidden chametz, but without kids’ help, the stuff would remain unfound forever.
I am as consummate a housecleaner as I am a toothbrusher/flosser/gargler. If I need an extra set of hands to rid my house of chametz, why did I think it was unnecessary to enlist a dentist to help rid my mouth of plaque? It was lunacy to think good genes and regular brushing alone would keep me going after more than (gulp) five years without a dental exam.
Moses didn’t wander in the desert alone. He had a society, a community. And he was Moses! It took people helping one another build the Ark that housed the 10 commandments. It was the whole community that received those commandments, and it’s been the whole community that has been expected to obey them.
For some of us – particularly the (near-) perfect specimens like me – the chametz we really have to deal with is the chametz of believing that we are self-reliant creatures who don’t need help or advice from anyone. We all need someone. Right now, I need a dentist.
So this Passover, I will cast off the chametz of stubborn self-reliance and agree to seek help when help is needed. I vow to open up and say, “Awe.”