Practically Perfect Passover
It was a Practically Perfect Passover holiday. In fact, it began with a sensational seder and shabbat! This year, our Practically Perfect Passover began and is about to conclude, on the sabbath. A fact that doesn’t always happen. Passover follows a lunar cycle and falls on the full moon every Spring. Some years it is late; some early. And you know what they say about Jewish holidays, right? They are either early or late, but never on time! 🙂 Because Passover began on the sabbath, it started as a special shabbat. A double blessing/holiday! Beginning with our seder.
What is a Passover seder?
What’s a seder you might ask? Seder is a hebrew word that means order. And every Passover, we tell the story of the Israelites road to freedom. It is a joyous journey; one that ended in liberation for a people enslaved. How do we tell this ancient story? With a series of 15 steps! Hence, seder/in a certain order. We partake of symbolic foods, tell the narrative, drink 4 cups of wine, and ask lots of questions. Well- the youngest asks at least 4 questions. Why DO we drink 4 cups of wine? That’s not one of the questions. But there is a lot of symbolism, tradition, history, meaning, and discussion as we tell this story representing freedom.
It is everyone’s journey
The story we tell together at our seder is meant to excite and involve us. We are to feel as if we were, each of us actually redeemed from slavery. We say the word: Mitzrayim. Another hebrew word which means: Narrow straits. Mitzrayim is anything that feters the human spirit. Many around the world are still hungry, homeless and imprisoned. The world is still un-redeemed. We each have our own Pharaohs to overcome. While we celebrate: once we were slaves; and now we are free- we think of others that are still enslaved, longing for release. And we think of ourselves- and where we struggle in our own lives for freedom today.
As I prepared for our first seder
As you see me here by our seder table, I began the holiday full of joy, promise and hope. And oy the preparation! So much cleaning and cooking… Much as the Israelites must have felt when they began their trek across the wilderness. One must prepare! Only they did not have much time. They had to leave in a hurry, which is why we eat matzah, instead of bread. The bread did not have time to rise. Many compare this flat bread to the quality of humility. Such that during the holiday, we are reminded not to puff ourselves up; to remain humble. So, if you have to leave in a hurry, there must not be time for boastfulness, right? Of course right. 🙂
In this image
You can actually see that anticipation of joy in my eyes. This year, I did something for the very first time. I blessed our table. As I put the 2 boards on – elongating our table to fit for 10 — (plus the prophet Elijah!) I thanked our table for holding us up. For nearly 35 years, this table has sustained us, carrying us through many a joyous family occasion. It has never failed. And then, 10 chairs! We now have 10 matching, beautiful wooden chairs that we had purchased from an Amish shop. When the kids were young, we never had matching chairs. It felt like we had come a long way to to this day. I was filled with so much gratitude to God. For this moment. On this day. At this table. With these chairs. You can see it in my eyes.
As the people arrived
We welcomed a minyan! 10 to our table. The most we could hold, and more than other years. I was so happy to have a family join us that I had not met before. Well, I met the boy, an 11 year old who was participating in my clowning program at the synagogue, but I had not met the Mom. So, literally, we had a stranger at our table. We are commanded to let the stranger in. For once we were strangers in a strange land. It felt so perfect. Our Practically Perfect Passover.
During the meal
We took turns telling the story, with the Haggadah (means “telling”) book that we had written for our family. We ate the symbolic foods- the charoset (representing the bricks and mortar of slavery), parsley for spring time- dipped in salt water- our tears of slavery, an egg for new birth, horseradish for the bitterness, and we talked of the shank bone, representing the sacrifices in the temple of old. What are our sacrifices today? Today- we pray. We pray in the temple for our redemption. For the well being of those lying on a bed of pain, for the strength and courage to do good in our world, and stand up to injustice.
The meal and great spillage
I made my Mom’s brisket for the main meal, and it was the best yet! And then.. the spillage.. on the table.. with the tablecloth. From the youngest boy, the 11 year old. Not a biggy, I said. And sure enough, we were able to get it out the next day. Fast forward to our THIRD seder this Passover, back here with our adult children, we again had a second brisket (cooked by me) and an EPIC SPILL. This time, over a heirloom tablecloth I had set, once again, on our blessed table.
This was the worse spill ever. By our youngest son (now 23). And actually, as a result of our 2 children (26 and 23) playing across the table. I had been thinking too- how wonderful that was- to have them act like little kids again. And then, it happened! The spill….. wine everywhere; completely engulfing the youngest child and his handmade haggadah, full of notes and stickers from age 6 or so………………
The spills must have been good luck!
Why you ask? Because it was a Practically Perfect Passover! Everything flowed perfectly. At all of our seders. From the first words, to the fabulous foods, to the songs we sang, to the prizes given for the afikomen (a Greek word meaning “that which comes after” or dessert!) After the epic spill, at the third seder with just our fabulous family of five, we resumed our song- which happened to be about icky lice and all the plagues.. Perfect! A Practically Perfect Passover. It all just seemed to flow… get it. As the wine flowed, so did we! Everyone was joyous, fully fed, happy and ready to do it again next year!
As we go forward
Next year at the Lunds!/ Next year in Jerusalem!