Being Redeemed from Infertility

On first glance Passover has nothing to do with (in)fertility. It’s about slavery in Egypt, God’s redemption, and the passage through the desert to join in covenant with God.

On the other hand, (in)fertility is all over this holiday! How can anyone miss it?

In addition to imposing hard labor, which is then made harder, Pharoah orders the drowning of the Hebrew slaves’ baby boys. To end a people, end their fertility. In addition to the long term issue that Pharaoh would ultimately be wiping out his own workforce, his plan backfires in the short term too. Shifra and Puah, Egyptian midwives, save the Hebrew boys by saying the Hebrew women give birth too quickly and they cannot get there in time to follow the order. Civil disobedience is born.

Another intention of the hard labor is to keep the Israelites too tired to reproduce. Yet here too the Hebrews rise above.  A midrash teaches that “under the apple trees” the Hebrews continue to conceive and withstand the punishment. This enables them to grow and be numerous when the Exodus from Egypt, the “birth” of the Israelite nation, occurs.

If only finding an apple tree was all it took.

What might be relatable today to the experience of the Hebrew slaves is the feelings of lost agency, of punishment, of despair that comes with an experience with infertility. The long term effects can make you feel cut off, enslaved to treatments, with little hope for the future, or consigned to paperwork and waiting.

The slave mentality lasted for the Israelites into the desert. It can linger today too. This is part of what the process of removing the chametz, the items of bread and leavening, is intended to help do. Take time to release yourself from the ways that you are not doing your best, and that includes ways you enslave yourself.

Do you ever have limiting thoughts or ruminations that cross your mind (What if this doesn’t work? I am never going to become a parent? I can’t cope with this stress! My friends just don’t understand… etc.)? Have you ever eaten or napped or done something else as a reaction to stress? You can take the opportunity to explore some of your own thoughts and behaviors and work towards finding you own sense of freedom leading up and through Passover:

– Pick one limiting thought and explore it further: Sit with it for a moment and see how it feels in your body. Breath into that part of your body for a moment while the thought stays there. Do you notice a reaction in your body? Can you notice that next time and then decide if you want to entertain that thought any more or not?

– Give it a reality test. What if this treatment/adoption doesn’t work? What will really happen? Is it possible that you can choose to survive it? Can you take care of yourself now and in the future? If not, can you build support for yourself?

– Can you pick something Passover related to help you exit the narrow places in your life? As you remove bread from your home, you could also consider limiting (removing?) unhelpful interactions (or people) for a week or two. (Yes, that is a real suggestion!)

You cannot give what you do not have. So take care of yourself. That is truly liberating!

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