Tonight is the second night of Passover. Last night we celebrated the first night of Passover with my husband Jonâs parents Marciarose and Jerry Shestack in Philadelphia. Dov has attended the Passover Seder every year. Last night when he was asked one of the traditional four questions: âWhy do we eat unleavened bread?â The Jews ate unleavened bread because they were fleeing from the land of Egypt and their bondage as slaves and they did not have time to wait for their bread to rise and so they packed along the flat, unleavened bread we now call matzo.
âBecause we couldnât wait.â was the reply Dov typed out on his communication device.
Dov has changed. Since he began to communicate almost six years ago, at the age of nine, he has been able to participate in the Passover celebration more and he has been able to sit through most of the very long ceremony. Last night after about two and a half hours at the table he began to stim like crazy and he couldnât seem to manage his behavior much longer. âWhatâs going on?â I asked him. âFeeling very manic.â He typed on his device. I asked him if he wanted to go to bed and he nodded âyesâ. Two and a half hours of sitting, listening and occasionally answering was a triumph in my view!
In preparing for Passover this year I came across this passage:
âOn Passover we are commanded to feel as though we went from slavery to freedom. Rabbi J. B. Soloveitchik teaches that âa mute life is identical with bondage and a speech life is a free life.â Tonight we will act as free people by asking questions.â
Over the past five years, Dov has escaped the bondage of âa mute lifeâ and gained the freedom to ask questions and to answer them too. Even if the words are slow to be formed and he still needs someone to hold his keyboard and urge him on.
âBecause we couldnât wait.â
How many more children and people are there like Dov who are waiting to be granted the freedom of âa speech lifeâ, to join the âfree peopleâ in being able to ask and answer questions and to escape the bondage of complete muteness?
From Portia, written on the eve of the second night of Pesah.