In order to get them out from underfoot and keep them busy, many families will send their kids to Pre-Pesach camps. That’s right, camps. Enterprising teens and owners of private preschools spend the weeks leading up to Pesach distributing flyers and posting e-mail notices about their “amazing,” “best,” “superfun” and every other adjective you can name, camp.
Parents, in a frenzy of calculation, spend time analyzing the most important factor to them: which camp will keep my kid occupied for the longest amount of time. Sometimes a trade-off is made. For instance, Moshe has a private basement preschool that he goes to on early dismissal days and school vacations. He has been in the same preschool since we arrived in Israel. He loves the teacher and is incredibly comfortable there. Although we might have been able to find another program for him that would be longer, he stayed with Etti because it is simply easier for us.
This is an exciting time here in Israel. There is a frenzy of activity as the country gears up for the chag. Relatives (not just yours, but your neighbor’s as well) whom you may not have seen in a while, arrive from distant shores. Cleaning, cooking...the whole process is something that everyone is involved with.
In our office, the secretaries made a rotation that allowed them to work longer individual days, but still be home on other days in order to get their houses cleaned and readied. The local e-mail lists are full of “where can I get” questions and “what can I do” questions, and the spirit of yom tov is definitely in the air.
Interestingly, Pesach is the only chag in which the differences between Israel and Chutz La’aretz are minimized. OK, so we only have one Seder (which is huge) and we have more chol hamoed. But Pesach has always been, at least to me, a tremendously exciting family experience. A time when we really get together and spend time together maintaining family traditions.
Yes, we eat meals on every chag. I know the old adage that describes 90% of Jewish holidays as “they wanted to kill us, G-d saved us, let’s eat!” Yet, on Pesach, food is so central to the holiday that the seder and the meals take on much more meaning and are associated with much more emotional impact in my memory.
Of course, we also have some complications that you don’t. The kitniyot/non-kitniyot ingredients issue is a real pain. Well, actually, that is really the only advantage you have.
Another annoying thing is the clock change. Yes, you also changed the clocks already. But you would think that a country of Jews would get the concept of delaying the change until after the Seder so that we could start (and finish) an hour earlier. We get it right in the fall, switching to the early clock the week before Yom Kippur. I am sure that the real reason we lose out on Pesach is that it was made as a trade-off for Yom Kippur.
On the flip side, I was able to convince the rabbi to start davening at 9:00 a.m. on the first day of Pesach. It may not seem so late. But we are one of the latest minyanim in the area on Shabbat at 8:30, so this was a big jump. As a matter of fact, last Shabbat we started at 8:00 a.m. in order to get to Shema on time. We are very particular to make sure that there is enough time to make Shema and adjust davening time for 10-15 weeks of the year because of it.
Each chag, I try to remember to write a personal wish to my readers. I generally try to remind you that as a Kohein, I look forward to bringing your yom tov korbanot at the rebuilt Bet Hamikdash on the upcoming chag. This Pesach, I will do the same, but Machon HaMikdash: The Temple Institute has done me one better. They are offering reservations for a portion of a Korban Pesach.
As you know (or may not), on erev Pesach we will sacrifice the Korban Pesach in the rebuilt Bet HaMikdash (assuming Mashiach arrives) and the people of Machon HaMikdash dedicate their work and lives to preparing for the Bayit Shlishi. They want us to show our belief that the redemption is coming by reserving a share in a Korban Pesach. As far as I understand, they aren’t buying any animals, just making a commitment to you that the animal will be available when you need it. Kind of an “avoid the erev Pesach rush—make sure you are covered and reserve now” message.
Before you send me an e-mail or a letter to the editor telling me that this is kefirah or something of the sort, I want to state clearly that I am not advocating that people sign up for this. I did not personally make a reservation. I believe that Hashem will take care of all our needs when the time comes, or at least make it possible for us to obtain the necessary supplies. If he could miraculously make sure that there was room for all those who came to Yerushalayim for the chaggim in historical times, he can make sure that we all have an animal for Pesach.
But I do think the concept of anticipating the redemption is something that we lack and could use more of. Perhaps aliyah would be another way of expressing this feeling.
So I wish you and your families a terrific Pesach. When you come to the Bet HaMikdash to have your Korban Pesach slaughtered, if I am on duty, I would be thrilled to help you in this avodah. On the off chance that there is still no Bet HaMikdash by the time that Pesach arrives, let me wish you a wonderful chag and my brachot for l’shanah haba’ah b’Yerushalayim habenuyah!
I wish a mazal tov to our publisher, Larry Gordon, upon the launching of his latest venture, the South Florida Jewish Times. Although it is not as impressive as say, the Bet Shemesh Jewish Times, it is a great step in providing news, community information, and items of general interest to a wonderful part of the country (plus, my snowbird relatives can shep a little nachas each week while they are in their Florida houses). I view Larry as a visionary with an unerring sense of what the community wants to know and learn about. I wish Larry and his family and the 5TJT/SFJT families continued success.
Kinneret Update: This will be one of my final updates of the season. I may do a rain season recap after Pesach, just to summarize how we did this year. This week, the Kinneret was down 4 cm, to –212.76, and looks to be at or near the high point of the year. With the arrival of the spring, the temps will warm up and the rains will stop falling. We will probably begin to see drops in the water levels over Pesach.