What can be done about the fact that I don’t feel any special motivation and longing in preparation for Pesach?
There are certainly people whose hearts are aflame with joy and anticipation for the approaching Yom Tov. Wherever they go and whatever they do, they are thinking only about the wonderful delight of Emunah being revealed which will occur then, and from the songs of praise to Hashem which they will sing then, and from the holiness of the Matzos which they are going to be holding in their hands, and of drinking the four cups of wine, and of Chol HaMoed, Sefiras HaOmer, etc.
But don’t be broken and despair when you don’t feel as if an extraordinary day is coming up. Do you want to already taste from the light of Pesach now?! We must wait, because now is the time which is meant for preparations, and preparations are not always through feeling the light. They can be practical measures meant to inspire a longing and desire to come close to Hashem on the upcoming Yom Tov. With Hashem’s help, on the holy day itself you will merit to taste a little.
We will therefore mention a few practical points regarding the preparation:
1] The main preparation is the longing and desire for Pesach. Hence, the more you feel distant and the more you feel detached from Pesach, you should realize that on the contrary, these feelings are for your benefit. This feeling in itself can bring you to longing, for the heart can only honestly cry out to Hashem when in such a state. “Master of the World! I want to be part of the redemption, but where is the holiness of Pesach for me!? Please give me a taste of Matzo, etc. I have nothing…” This in itself is the preparation…
2] Part of the preparation is to get to know the particulars regarding the light of Pesach, such as what needs to be done and what should be had in mind during the Seder. This will make it easier for you to anticipate Pesach and to daven for it.
For this purpose, it would be worth it to study something about Pesach in Likutei Moharan or Likutei Halachos, or Otzar HaYirah. Today there are many anthologies which collect all the major teachings of the Rebbe about Pesach. You don’t necessarily need to study a complete Torah. You can concentrate on any one point, for example to understand what is the Galus of Mitzrayim, what is Chametz, what is the individual Geulah or what is Matzo, and so on. Try to understand it as much as you are capable, and don’t be embarrassed to discuss the ideas with your friends. Keep the idea in your mind and start to think about what the Tzaddikim are trying to tell you through it, and how it is relevant to you. The more you will think about it, the more you will feel enthusiasm for the holiness of the Yom Tov.
Even if you don’t feel inspiration, you will at least know what to pray for and what to request. You can yearn for what you’ve learnt concerning the secrets of Pesach, even if you don’t feel it.
Sometimes, you may not have peace of mind to focus on a specific subject. You can then study many different ideas about Pesach, which can inspire you to understand that in general Pesach has in it many great and hidden things.
3] In addition, remember to learn the Halachos of Pesach, such as those outlined in Mishna Berurah, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, and especially in more recent works, to know how to conduct the Yom Tov. Halachos are the vessel in which the light of Pesach is contained. Therefore, when you study these Halachos, arouse within yourself the belief that these Halachos and Mitzvos are in reality great pipelines of divine flow for the holiness of Pesach. Every Halachah and minhag contains the greatest of secrets. Hashem in His great compassion is drawing you close to this holiness through the practical Halachos and customs.
4] Even helping at home, cleaning for Pesach and performing errands is part of the preparation. This that Klal Yisroel toils so much for before Pesach is in itself an expression of how much deep in their hearts they desire to come close to Hashem on Pesach. Sometimes the Yetzer Hara makes an effort in order to make us forget about feeling that longing for Hashem while cleaning for Pesach, and instead, makes sure to cause stress and agitation in the home, in order to make us forget the main purpose of all our work.
Therefore you should be very, very careful to help with joy and liveliness in whatever is needed, and yield to your family with selflessness. You should have faith that whatever you are doing gives great pleasure and pride to Hashem, and don’t forget what you are cleaning for -Pesach! Remind yourself aloud: “I am doing this for Pesach!”
It is also possible to speak to Hashem and express your yearning for Him, while you are working. Adel, the daughter of the Baal Shem Tov, would sometimes stop in middle of sweeping the house, with her broom in her hand, and would say with great yearning, “How can I give delight to Hashem?”
Whenever you clean a place which really needs to be cleaned from Chametz, keep in mind that with this action you are literally destroying the Chametz from your mind and heart, which refers to all the illusions, worries, fights, jealousies, angers, etc.
5] In general you should know that every Mitzvah which you do before Pesach, and all the Torah which you learn, every Kriyas Shema which you recite, and every Tefillah, every respect you give for your parents, and every overcoming a trial, in essence is preparing you for the Yom Tov, even if it’s not directly connected to Pesach. You should therefore try to grab as much Torah and Mitzvos you can as a preparation.
There is a story told about Reb Noson and Reb Aharon, the Rav of Breslov, who were about to recite Kiddush Levanah, but since the moon wasn’t clear, Reb Aharon chose to wait another day, while Reb Noson didn’t wait. The next night, after Reb Aharon recited Kiddush Levanah by a clear moon, Reb Noson said, “True, he recited Kiddush Levanah properly, however I already merited to daven Maariv today coming after [yesterday’s] Kiddush Levanah.” Because in actuality each Mitzvah helps us to receive the holiness from the following one.
The main point is to arouse your heart whenever you remember to, that Pesach is coming, a Pesach which has never been before, and that “I certainly have a portion in it. I will prepare for it however I am able”. In such a manner, you will truly merit to taste from this year’s Korban Pesach and Chagigah, in the Beis HaMikdash.