Thursday, March 19, 2015

Mitzvot of Passover

My family tradition is to always spend the first night of Passover with my extended family, and typically the second night of Passover with extended friends.  This year, with Passover over Shabbat I imagine that many people will be inclined to host a Seder this year.  Having all day Saturday to prep, and all day Sunday to clean it up.  It's a lot harder to make it happen when it's on a Tuesday..

While Passover has always been my thing, I've always been surprised about the misinformation out there.  We have only a few Torah driven commandments for Passover:

1. Celebrate Passover (Exodus 23:14)
2. Remove Chametz (Exodus 12:15, etc.)
3. Rest on the first day of Passover (Exodus 12:16)
4. Tell the Exodus Story (Exodus 13:8)
5. Eat Matzah (Exodus 12:18)

All the rest of them are rabbinical observances and mitzvot- leaning over, drinking four cups of wine, eating the bitter herb, finding the afikomen, etc.

This is why, if you have children in your life, I suggest that you take a note from the commandments of Torah, and KISS- keep it simple stupid.

There's no commandment to actually have a Seder.  The pieces of the Seder are Talmudic ideas that help us ensure that we tell all of the story, and that we discuss the relevant pieces.  What does this mean for you?  That you can and should tell the story, but if in doing so you are all lost in the exercise of having a Seder, and not telling the story, then you've lost the point.

Since we always meet with my extended family for Passover, it's traditional for my family to do a stricter version of the Seder.  We all have the same Haggadahs, etc.  But now that there are children in the mix, I really don't want my kids to think that all the Passover Seder is is an obligation.

Yes, a commandment is an obligation.

No, we don't have to see it as just that.

Telling the Passover story is an opportunity. To reclaim part of our heritage. To share time with family and friends.  To invest in understanding our Judaism a little bit more, in a slightly different way.

So this year, I say you let it go...gently.  Let everyone sit around the couch and the cocktail table.  Worry less about passing a piece of parsley covered in salt water, and more about whether you are connecting with the story.

Eat your Matzah

Avital Pinnick
Remove the Chametz

Tell the story.

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