I realize you are more likely to be recovering from the sedarim, either from preparation or overindulging, this Saturday and Sunday morning. Are you really interested in a discourse on the Torah readings for tomorrow and Sunday? Me neither. But here’s my handy-dandy crib sheet with links in case you actually want to look these up but will too sleepy (or hung over if your 4 cups of wine are big ones) to go to services:
|April 23, 1st day Pesach||Exodus 12:21-51
The first Passover, the Exodus, and laws for future Passovers (duh).
The Passover sacrifice (also duh).
|Joshua 5:2-6:1, 27
[or 3:5-7; 5:2–6:1, 27] Circumcision of the males born in the wilderness.
|April 24, 2nd day Pesach||Leviticus 22:26-23:44
The holidays (“set times”).
Same as the first day.
|II Kings 23:1-25
or 23:1-9, 21-25] King Josiah’s religious revival.
I wrote this in 2003:
“But face it, who really cares about anything at the synagogue at the start of Passover? Our biggest concerns before Passover are cleaning and buying whatever special kosher l’pesach goodies we like before they disappear from the store shelves. Then there’s the seder, rather, the two sedarim. The seder provokes reminiscencing as effectively as Proust’s madeleine. Some of my own memories: the 1959 seder that was cancelled because I came down with scarlet fever that afternoon. 1972, subjecting my then-college classmate (future husband) Rich to the scrutiny of 21 of my relatives (my four little cousins, aged 1 to 5, provided a bit of welcome distraction). 1989: passing on the Ma Nishtana baton to daughter Roz (I transliterated it for her) after decades of my being the youngest at the table, along with the strangeness of a seder without my father. And then there are the treasured objects: Great-uncle Mitchell’s wine glass, the coin silver spoons and Cup of Elijah from Poland, the haggadah with my brother’s adolescent smart alecky scribblings in it. How appropriate this all occurs at a season when we celebrate life and renewal.”
That was 13 years ago. I have other memories from childhood Passovers that are as clear, like the year I put together a little model of a seder table with 18 place settings (that year’s attendance) that included 18 little aluminum foil kiddush cups. Or the year I got the mumps after the seder but during the holiday. But the last 13 years are more of a blur as I look back. I remember enlarging the pages of the haggadah so my mother could follow along. I remember the year she was in Lankenau or rehab and we transmitted the seder to her by phone until she dozed off. As years went by, my mother became increasingly confused about the calendar and what had happened to whom when, often conflating incidents. One manifestation was her anxiety about the seder, starting months ahead of time: Who’s doing what? Was there anything she needed to do? What about the (fill in the blank)? And our responses were 1) Everything is or will be taken care of and 2) The seder isn’t for another 8 months anyway. But one thing she never became befuddled about was who we were, and for that I am grateful.
I wish you all a “zissun Pesach” (sweet Passover).
This is also from 2003, passed along at that time by Arlene M-S:
Alert: New Psychiatric Disorder added to DSM-IV-R
PPCD: Pre-Pesach Cleaning Disorder This is a recently discovered disorder, recognized as a seasonal disorder, usually appearing in early spring. It is characterized by obsessive thinking about cleanliness, far out of normal proportions. It is distinguished from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder 300.3 by several symptoms:
- Obsessive focusing on small particles of food throughout the house, to the extent of climbing onto bookshelves and behind toilets to ferret out particles smaller than the eye can see. Compulsive washing of objects that are ostensibly clean (e.g., one Patient was found putting her children’s Legos into a sock bag and washing them. This was discovered by a disturbed neighbor who couldn’t figure out what could possibly be banging so loudly and incessantly in the dryer. The patient, when confronted said, “Well, what did you expect– for me to put them in the toy box wet!”)
- Incessant moving of common objects from their normal places (e.g., dishes, silverware, etc. are wrapped up and/or banished from their normal shelves and drawers.)
- Talking with friends and acquaintances about topics formerly of no interest (e.g., effectiveness of different oven cleaners, location of most pungent horseradish.)
This disorder seems to occur in a social context. Frequently, groups of women experience PPCD simultaneously.
Presumptive symptoms: Spring time frame. Patient is a woman, although entire households can be affected. Patient reports insomnia. Patient has red hands. Patient has a heavy odor of cleaning substances. Patient does not have time to talk about it.
Treatment: This disorder has a guarded prognosis. Although patients uniformly recover within several weeks, they tend to relapse around the same time each year.*
*There are reports of cessation of symptoms if they are taken away to a hotel for a week each year.
Speaking of Legos…
Lego my Afikomen: Lego Ideas for Your Seder (abridged)
Legos have always been a critical part of the modern Jewish experience… unlike … competitive board games – which always ended with someone crying, Legos provided the exact opposite. It built relationships by bringing together the worlds of all 4 sons. It allowed the inner architect to become a skyscraper maker, the warrior to build a battlefield, the car driver to build the ultimate driving machine. Legos built our shabbos afternoon homes. It unified our wacky family dynamics and helped us all see whatever we could imagine was possible.
So it makes total sense that there is a wave of Passover led lego efforts. I am sure there are many who have great ideas to add to this. But from the original minds of http://www.thebricktestament.com/ and http://biblebeltbalabusta.com/ I think we are just getting started…. There needs to be a LEGO haggadah asap.
Here are a couple of examples:
The Seder Sidekick is a huge compendium of information, jokes, and songs for the holiday, put together by the folks at bangitout.com . If you don’t “get” the humor about any of these, you can figure it out from the Seder Sidekick. Or ask me.
Top Ten Ways You Know Your Son Isn’t The Wise Son:
10. He used up all the saltwater on Urchatz
9. Asks you what page is it in the Rosh Hashana Machzor
8. Thought the 6th Plague was ‘Don’t Steal’
7. Asks what other kinds of fish can be used to make Carp-as
6. Wonders why there is no honey around to dip the apples into
5. Confuses 4 Questions, with 21 Questions (“Is it something round on this table?”)
4. Keeps asking when Elijah will come down the chimney
3. Really wants to know how Egyptians became so stupid during the plague of Dumb
2. Asks if he can read the part of Charlton Heston
1. He already ate the Afikomen
Top Ten Seder Recipes for the Plagued Cook
10. Watercress covered in Blood Orange Vinaigrette
9. Frog Leg Fiesta (great in cholent)
8. Angel Hair with lice, ehr, rice
7. Basil Pesto-lence
6. Wild rice
5. Boiled Tongue with fiery gravy drizzle
4. Hail Caesar Salad
2. Death by Dark Chocolate
1. Hardened hearts of palm
The Four Sons
A humorous version of The Four Sons, by Harold Zvi Rabbie.
There are four types of children who ask questions on Pesach: the wise one, the bad one, the simple one, and the one who does not know to ask.
What does the wise one ask? I don’t know; I couldn’t understand him either. Him you must send to a school for gifted children.
What does the bad one ask? He says, “What is this festival to you?” Because he excludes himself from the community, you must exclude him from your table, and he will go back to his employer and get paid double-time and a half for working on Pesach.
What does the simple one ask? He simply asks, “What is this?” You will say to him, “This is dinner.”
As for the one who does not know to ask, you must go to his room, wake him up and say, “Next year, remember to come to the table!”
My husband’s mother and both of my parents passed away around 5-6 weeks before Passover, so I empathize with Howie Beigelman, a young man who just wrote about seder without his father, An Empty Chair at Our Seder. Here are excerpts:
Last year, the seder – all of Pesach really – was a blur. We were hardly up from shloshim, the first thirty days of mourning, for my dad. He was on my mind then, but he’s on my mind now too, even – or because of – the intervening time.
As I prepare for the second Passover since my father died, I still can’t get one conversation with him out of my mind.
It’s not just because this will be only the fourth time in my life sitting down to the seders without him at the table. It’s not because there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think of something I’d like to tell my dad, or a question I wish I could ask him. And it’s not even because I can’t believe my young children will never have the chance to steal his afikomen.
Rather, as I’m still struggling to somehow take away the capstone life lessons my dad tried to impart, it’s this one conversation I keep returning to.
My father and I were walking through Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood, heading to my sister’s home. It was a Friday night and we were on our way back from the Western Wall.
“Daddy,” I asked, “did you ever think in 1944 that in 2004, you’d be praying at the Kotel, under Jewish guard, walking in Jerusalem with a Jewish government, on the way to Friday night dinner with your grandchildren?”
A child survivor of the Holocaust who’d spent the war years in hiding, my father answered in a single word. “No.”
Left unsaid were two lessons my father showed us throughout his life by way of example: to never lose a sense of history and to always have gratitude for what he had rebuilt…
My father was obsessed with Jewish history precisely because he was so concerned about Jewish destiny.
While we can’t change history, destiny is ours to be made.