This coming Friday night, Jews across the world sit down to what may be the world’s greatest on-going feast: the Passover Seder. Passover has a strange hold on people. Though it is the hardest holiday to keep, (who really likes matzah by day 8?) it is also the most popular. Even the least religious somehow find their way to a Seder and manage to enter into Passover’s magic.
Passover is about freedom: its theme: “b’chol dor v’dor chayav Adam lirot et atzmo k’ilu hu yatzah miMitzrayim: in each and every generation, each of us must see ourselves as personally having been liberated from the tyranny of slavery.”
These are powerful words in a world filled with emotions in which too many have yet to taste freedom. How many of us suffer if not from the tyranny of political slavery, then from that of personal slavery? How many of us are slaves (addicted to) vices we wish we did not have? How many people suffer from the curse of needless worry, anxiety, laziness, or jealousy?
Passover teaches us about how much we take for granted. It is Passover week with its long list of prohibited foods that divides the ethically weak form the strong. Passover reminds us that it is easy to be ethical when one is in an ethical world, but the mark of real character is when we must be different from the rest when we must live our lives based on eternal principles that may be distinct from that trends of the day.
Despite the difficulties of the week and the celebratory nature of the return to the easy life of bread, hopefully, this week will teach us much. It makes us ask ourselves questions such as: how quickly do we come to believe that the “good life” is our right and not our privilege? How easily do we get spoiled, and how hard is it for us to learn patience?
The 8 days of Passover are not easy. Nevertheless, they are days that make us realize that two of the keys of freedom is the “ability to persevere” and the “creativity of one’s soul.” To be free is not a gift; it is hard work. Freedom is keeping your eyes set on a goal, and learning to deal with
Our ancestors never learned these lessons and so spent 40 years in the desert. Let us hope that we, who shall be eating the “bread of affliction” for these 8 days of Passover, learn the lessons of freedom and so avoid a life spent in a spiritual desert. This year, Passover in the Diaspora concludes at sundown on April 7
My family joins me in wishing each of you a Chag Sameach v’Kasher/A Happy and Kosher Passover.
Youtubes of the week:
Several versions of the Passover classic, Chad Gadyah:
From Jerusalem’s Boys Town:
An Arabic Version:
A Ladino Version:
As sung by Theodore Bikel:
Every Year People Ask for a Passover Chametz List.
To help you navigate the holiday here is a good partial list. “Chametz” is classified as:
- all foods made with leavening
- The following grains
- corn (precise definition unclear)
- What is called Kintiyot? These include:
- Green Beans
- Foods derived from the above such as Pasta, Beer, and Whisky
Sephardic Jews and now many Ashkanzic Jews reject the idea of the Kiniyot and tend to eat:
- Green Beans
- Sesame Seeds
- Sunflower Seeds
Most US Jews eat peanuts and peanut butter and matzah has become part of the diet.
In the Diaspora this year, Passover’s laws go into effect around midday March 30 and last until the sighting of three stars on April 7th. In Israel, the holiday ends on the evening of the 6th.