Countdown to Passover
Judaism celebrates gifts of time, marks time, and prepares for holy times. As we all struggle to find normality in these difficult times, our tradition reminds us that above all else, time is the finest gift we have. We spend the month of Elul getting ready for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We spend the time between Passover and Shavuot counting the Omer, preparing to enter into the covenant with Gd. And now we are counting the days until Passover. The four weeks between Purim and Passover are filled with special haftaroth that are to remind us of what is coming. In preparation for Passover this year, I will be sending you different reading, customs, and fun activities to use to enhance your own sederim this year. If you have anything you would like to share, please feel free to send it my way. As we prepare for Passover this year, may we find time to truly value the gift of time.
Today I would like to share with you the following three thoughts:
1. Jews all around the world prepare for Passover differently. Both Hasidic Jews and Moroccan Jews have the custom of wearing white to Seder, possibly to signify joyfulness.
2. One of the tricks of the Seder is to move us from our individual journeys to our communal (for some of us our community is our family, for others friends and still others a mixture of the two) experience quickly. Here are three different ways of doing that.
A. The word Haggadah means “the Telling.” On many other festivals we are commanded to listen. We must hear the Megillah on Purim; we must hear the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah. But on Pesach, we are commanded to speak. We must speak of our past, we must tell our own stories, and we must seek out our voice. Introduce yourself by sharing your name according to your paternal and maternal line. (Haggadot.com)
B. There is a Sephardic (Iraqi or Afghani) custom of turning to the person beside you, asking these three questions and offering the three brief answers.
Who are you? (I am Yisrael.)
Where are you coming from? (I am coming from Mitzrayim.)
Where are you going? (I am going to Yerushalayim)
C. In Morocco and Tunisia you would begin the Seder by circling the Seder plate over the heads of each participant while saying “In Haste we left Egypt” The response is “We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt.”
3. I found this meaningful quote on Ritualwell.org: “The beginning of the Seder seems strange. We start with Kiddush as we normally would when we begin any festive meal. Then we wash, but without a blessing, and break bread without eating it. What’s going on here? It seems that the beginning of the Seder is kind of a false start. We act as if we are going to begin the meal but then we realize that we can’t – we can’t really eat this meal until we understand it, until we tell the story of the exodus from Egypt. So we interrupt our meal preparations with maggid (telling the story). Only once we have told the story do we make Kiddush again, wash our hands again (this time with a blessing) and break bread and eat it! In order to savor this meal, in order to appreciate the sweet taste of Passover, we must first understand it. ”
Next week, I will share different thoughts and ideas about what to place on the Seder plate.