Yes, Passover lasts for several days after the sedarim. It is celebrated for 7 days in Israel (stop gloating, Elliott!) and by Reform Jews and for 8 by Orthodox and Conservative Jews outside Israel. Like the 1st and 2nd days, the 7th and 8th are holidays on which we do not work. Besides the obligatory sacrifices (2nd scroll reading, Numbers 28:19-25 both days), the theme of the readings physical and spiritual redemption. Naturally, these readings include singing.
It’s traditional to chant the 8-chapter-long Song of Songs (Shir Hashirim, aka the Song of Solomon) on the intermediate Sabbath of the holiday or, if there is none, like this year, on the 8th day, but services are already long that day, so we’re skipping it. That’s a pity because it uses a lovely melody and the poetry is beautiful and spring-y, which we really need now with more snow in the forecast. Just keep repeating verses 2:11-12 to block out the cold:
11For lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
12 The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of singing has come,
And the voice of the turtle*
Is heard in our land.
*Turtle is an archaic word for turtledove.
The first scroll reading for the 7th day is Exodus 13:17-15:26, about the splitting of the sea and the final escape of the Israelites. Its core is the Song at the Sea (Shirat HaYam, or just the Shir). Miriam and the women not only sing but play instruments and dance. The Shir is chanted with occasional melodic variations from the regular Torah cantillation. It is part of the liturgy and, when chanted as part of the Torah reading, includes melodic variations from the regular trope. The haftarah is the one assigned to Parashat Ha’azinu in the fall, II Samuel 22:1-51. It includes David’s song of thanks for his rescue from Saul et al., Psalm 18. It’s long, and, since it’s poetry, contains a lot of unfamiliar Hebrew words and is chanted in a monotonous rhythm that puts listeners to sleep (human and feline, at least).
The 8th day reading from the first scroll is normally Deut. 15:19-16:17, but this year, it’s Deut. 14:22-16:17 because it’s on the Sabbath. It concerns tithing, providing for the needy and the Levites, remission of debts, what to do about slaves who don’t want to be freed, consecration of first born and the harvest holidays (Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot). The haftarah is Isaiah 10:32 – 12:6. It is full of images of redemption and the end of days, e.g., the wolf will dwell with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the kid, and a little child will lead them. It’s also the source of a popular song Ushavtem Mayim B’sasson, “You will draw water in gladness from the wells of salvation (12:3).”
Thus, we conclude our journey that began a few months ago with Shabbat Shekalim and a head tax and progressed through increasing physical and spiritual cleansing to the holiday of Pesach, which now ends with a vision of the end of days.
Chag sameach and Shabbat shalom,
Crossing the Red Sea
Little Danny rushes home from church, grabs his Daddy by the leg and yells, “That story of Moses and all those people crossing the Red Sea was great!”
His father looks down, smiles, and asks Danny to tell him all about it.
“Well, Moses was a big strong man and he beat Pharaoh up. Then while he was down, Moses got all the people together and they ran towards the sea.
“The Israelites got out of Egypt, but Pharaoh and his army chased after them. So they ran as fast as they could until they got to the Red Sea.
“The Egyptian Army was gettin’ closer and closer. So Moses got on his walkie-talkie and told the Israeli Air Force to bomb the Egyptians.
“While that was happening, the Israeli Navy built a pontoon bridge so the people could cross over.
“Once Moses and the Israelites got safely to the other side, they blew up the bridge while the Egyptians were trying to cross.”
By now, Daddy is shocked. “Is THAT the way the teacher taught you the story?”
“Well, no, not exactly,” Danny admits, “but you’d never believe the story she DID tell us!”
Vocal Jokes (selected)
Q: Did you hear about the woman who couldn’t find a singing partner?
A: She had to buy a duet yourself kit.
Q: What do you call a singing vegetable?
A: Elvis Parsley.
Person 1: It must be terrible for an opera singer to realize that he can never sing again.
Person 2: Yes, but it’s much more terrible if he doesn’t realize it.
Q: Mom, why do you always stand by the window when I practice for my singing lessons?
A: I don’t want the neighbours to think I’m employing corporal punishment, dear.
A young child told his mother “When I grow up I’m going to be a singer.”
His mother responded “Well honey, you know you can’t do both.”
Q: What’s the definition of an optimist?
A: A backup singer with a mortgage.
Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come. Robert H. Schuller
In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours. Mark Twain
You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming. Pablo Neruda
In winter, I plot and plan. In spring, I move. Henry Rollins
In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. Margaret Atwood
(Some of the) Top Ten Uses for Matzah in the Office
Put in paper tray. Watch that photocopier jam.
Slab on some jelly, really big Post-Its
Build your own additional cubical walls and roof
Bulletin board with staple ridges
When on boring conference call, start chewing and say connection is breaking up
Three-hole punch it and use as dividers in your binder
Replace paper towels with matzah. Do the same thing to toilet paper
Create kitschy inbox/outbox on your desk with empty box of matzahs
Place matzah on your monitor and tell everyone your computer isn’t working. Then go to sleep.