Yes, it is still Passover (Pesach). It’s an 8-day holiday (7 for Reform). We are still crunching matzah. And there’s stuff left to do, besides starting to pack up the Pesach stuff. For example, on the 2nd night, we began to count the Omer, which we will do daily for a total of 49 days, until the holiday of Shavuot. This counting, known in Hebrew as Sefirat HaOmer, is done in commemoration of the Temple offerings of an “omer” of grain as commanded in Leviticus 23:15–16, which was in the 2nd day Torah reading. To help you keep track, there are online Omer counters such as The Homer Calendar as well as apps like Ultimate Omer 2 – The Sefira app you can count on.
Yes, there are more Torah readings. Actually, as well as the 7th & 8th day holidays, the 4 intermediate days (chol hamoed, this year, 4/25-28) have their own Torah readings, which, since chol hamoed is almost over, you can read about here.
Here are the 7th and 8th day Torah and haftarah readings. They concern redemption (Hebrews at the Sea, David from Saul, and everyone in the Messianic age) and the holidays:
|April 29, 7th day Pesach||Exodus 13:17-15:26 The splitting of the Re(e)d Sea, the Song at the Sea.||Num. 28:19-25 The Passover sacrifice. Same as first two days, minus verses 16-18.||II Samuel 22:1-51 David’s song of thanks for rescue from Saul et al. Also the Haftarah for Ha’azinu in the fall. Contains Psalm 18.|
|April 30, 8th day Pesach||Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17 Tithes. Sabbatical year. Levites. Slaves. Consecration of first born. Holidays: Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot.||Num. 28:19-25 Same as 7th day||Isaiah 10:32 – 12:6 Messianic vision, which we’ve been leading up to since Shabbat Shekalim. Imagery of animals lying down together and led by a small child.|
Besides the Song at the Sea we read on the 7th day, it is customary to read the Song of Songs (Shir HaShirim, aka Song of Solomon,) on the intermediate Sabbath of Passover. There isn’t one this year, so we could read it on the 8th day, but services are already long then, so we generally skip it. That’s a pity, since it’s chanted to a lovely melody and could help us believe it is actually spring here (the trees say yes, the thermometer says maybe not yet):
‘For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing is come,
and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.’
‘Turtle’ is Jacobean for turtledove. There are also many, many musical settings of parts of the Song of Songs in various languages. Pablo Casals composed one in Latin, Nigra Sum. It will be included in the May 1 Delaware ChoralArts concert of Spanish and Latin America music.
Enjoy the rest of your holiday.
Chag sameach and Shabbat shalom,
For your consideration for next year (thanks Arlene):
By Beth Teitell GLOBE STAFF APRIL 13, 2016
The ‘30-Minute Seder’ is rabbinically approved. But is it too short? Or too long? (abridged)
To start with the obvious: Yes, Robert Kopman, the Brooklyn-born, Arizona-residing author of the very popular “30 Minute Seder,” and the admittedly less popular “60 Minute Seder,” has considered publishing the “15 Minute Seder.”
“People joke,” he said, “but I’ve thought about it.”
“If I take anything [else] out,” Kopman said, “I think we’d lose something essential from the experience.”
(W)ith many different ways to approach the (Haggadah) text — from skipping vast portions to reading every page in Hebrew— tensions at the table may be slowly simmering (along with the chicken soup in the kitchen).
No one wants to lose anything essential, but in today’s world — in which adults have the attention span of toddlers, and iPhone-separation anxiety is a real condition — the question is this: What’s essential?
(I)s a longer seder necessarily better? Rabbi Suzie Jacobson of Boston’s Temple Israel, says it’s not the seder’s length that matters, it’s the meaning that that the family brings to it. Well, up to a point. The jokey “The Two-Minute Haggadah: A Passover Service for the Impatient” that makes the rounds online this time of year is a bit too abbreviated, she said.
But a focused half-hour conversation can work. “The whole point of the seder, from its early medieval origins through today, is to be an educational moment where the whole family gets together and contemplates themes of freedom and slavery and exodus,” she said.
Bottom line: Kopman says his Haggadah eliminates most of the “fluff.”
Meanwhile, as of press time, Hanukkah was still eight days.
Beth Teitell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @bethteitell
For at least some birds, it’s better for a male to use melody than aggression to ensure the fidelity of his mate. Hmmm…
Cuckoldry and song
Fidelio Birds that sing together, cling together (abridged)
Feb 27th 2016 | From the print edition
THE lovey-dovey monogamy which the untutored eye may perceive in pairs of songbirds, raising their young together in nests constructed by joint endeavour, has long been exposed by zoologists as a fantasy. Even by the adulterous standards of the ornithological world, though, the red-backed fairy-wren, an Australian bird, is a champion. According to a study just published in Biology Letters by Daniel Baldassarre of Cornell University and his colleagues, almost half of fairy-wren nestlings are not fathered by the male that is helping to feed them, and 60% of nests contain at least one such chick. For male fairy-wrens, then, trying to guarantee paternity is a continual struggle, and
Dr Baldassarre and his team wondered which strategies worked best.
Broadly, a male fairy-wren has two options. He can try to discourage interlopers by beating them up, or he can woo his mate to encourage her not to stray. He does this by duetting with her. That both keeps her attention and may suggest to other males that she is, indeed, loyal.
To see which was the better approach Dr Baldassarre and his team …challenged male fairy-wrens with dummy interlopers who were given voice by recorded songs. They then compared the males’ typical responses …with the paternities of actual nestlings subsequently raised….
Their results were intriguing. A male’s level of aggression towards the dummy made no perceptible difference to his chance, subsequently measured, of being a cuckold. His level of duetting, by contrast, made a big one. The best duetters had almost no offspring born of adultery inflicted on them.
Aggression…serves to protect a territory (and thus its food resources) from predatory neighbours. In the matter of sexual fidelity, though, it seems to be useless. For female fairy-wrens, it is rather a mellifluous mate that is the key to domestic harmony and a loyal partnership.