All is in the preparation!

by Arliene Botnick, March 27, 2019

All is in the preparation! Perhaps the preceding statement is the best description of the most “invasive”, “work involved”, time consuming holiday in our Jewish year – Pesach –

The Story

Our ancestors were slaves for 430 years. They endured and survived the 10 plagues that demoralized and overwhelmed their slave masters. The Israelites fled Egypt as quickly as possible, expecting perhaps (and they were right) that they’d be pursued by their Egyptian taskmasters. For 40 years, our ancestors wandered in the desert, looking to the land that they had been promised as far back as their ancestor, Abraham, who heard the words from God – “Lech Lecha” “Go to the land I’ll show you”.

The Israelites fled with the flour not even made into bread. (Hence – Matza – unleavened bread). In the desert, they bemoaned their plight, kvetching constantly to Moses about how hard their existence was. And finally, with the 10 commandments which Moses received at Sinai, they entered the promised land under the leadership of Joshua. That was then; this is NOW.

Today, we, the descendants of those ancient Israelites, relive the EXODUS experience. In our reading of the Hagaddah, we say that we were slaves in Egypt and that God led us out with an outstretched arm. But the seder (one or two) is only a small part of the Pesach experience.

As I said in the opening, it’s all in the preparation. Our ancestors packed in a hurry – we shop and shop and shop, looking for where, in Mississauga, we can possibly find those products labelled Kosher for Passover. Many of us trek into North Toronto where kosher for Passover products are abundant and where we can – if it is our custom – actually buy Kosher meat.

Then there is all the cleaning. I’m not sure if our ancestors cleaned out their dwellings before they fled from Egypt, but we really have to clean to prepare for Passover. We have to get rid of all the chametz in our homes. We have to empty cupboards, sweep up all those bits of crumbs, and for some of us, change over to our Passover dishes and cutlery.

Then there is the cooking! Our ancestors got manna; we prepare brisket, turkey, chicken soup, matzah balls, various types of kugels and delicious, fluffy cakes made with oh so many eggs. Some of us may already have begun the cooking!

And like our ancestors, we kvetch. So much to do, so much to buy, so much to cook, so much to clean. But like our ancestors, we realize it’s all worth it in the end.

As we sit down with our family and friends at our seders, as we enjoy the fruits of all our labours, we too can say that we are blessed, to live freely as Jews, to open our homes to all guests, and to thank God for this amazing celebration.

Filed under: Educator's Message

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