Monday, April 18, 2011
“Ho lakhma anya di akhalu avahatana b’ara mitzrayim. Kol dikhfin yeitei v’yeikhol, kol ditzrikh yeitei v’yifsach. This is the bread of affliction which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat; let all who are needy come and celebrate the Passover.” - Opening words of the Passover seder.
This morning, as I headed off to morning minyan fifteen minutes earlier than usual, the full moon hung huge in the western sky, reddened by a thin layer of cloud just above the horizon. It was a beautiful reminder that the middle of the month of Nisan was upon us, bringing with it the festival of Passover and z’man cheirutenu - the season of our freedom.
Passover commemorates the departure of the ancient Israelites from their generations-long servitude in Egypt. While the revelation of Torah at Mount Sinai would later define the Jewish religion, the Exodus was the event that defined the Jewish people as a nation... and gave us the sobriquet “Red Sea Pedestrians,” to boot.
Today’s early start time was to accommodate a special study session. The day being the eve of Passover, it was also the fast of the firstborn - a day on which, traditionally, firstborn sons would fast in gratitude for having been spared from the Plague of the Firstborn that struck the Egyptians. But by completing the study of a tractate of Talmud (a festive occasion that is capped off with a celebratory meal), the fast can be ended before missing a meal: The atmosphere of rejoicing overrides the requirement to fast. And so we spend a half-hour learning with our rabbi, freeing those of us who are firstborn (such as Yours Truly) to go eat breakfast. Too bad this gimmick doesn’t work on Yom Kippur.
A small group of us ran off to enjoy our celebratory meal at the local Waffle House - our last chance to have chametz (leavened foods) before the holiday kicked in. Besides, where else can you get your hashbrowns scattered, shattered, spattered, battered, smothered, hot ’n’ bothered, lathered, Dan Rathered, chunked, skunked, punked, capped, crapped, and bitch-slapped?
Our house is already fragrant with the aromas of the holiday. Nothing says springtime like the way SWMBO’s golden chicken soup with matzohballs perfumes the air. I can barely restrain myself. All of those wonderful seasonal dishes! I almost don’t even mind doing without bread, Scotch, beer, or regular defecation for the next eight days. (They don’t call matzoh the bread of affliction for nothing.)
To my family and all our Jewish friends, a happy Passover - chag Pesach kasher v’sameach. May your holiday be a sweet and joyful one, without limit to any good thing.