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Apr 11 2011

Passover – What’s the Point?

By at 10:08 am

The last thing I need right now is Passover.

In the 16 days left until the end of Pesach, I have two major presentations to give, two papers to write, a dissertation meeting to finagle, a proposal to submit, six family birthdays (including my husband’s and mother-in-law’s) to celebrate, and a crucially important pre-Royal-wedding party to attend.

I’ve also got a broken vacuum cleaner, a toddler who only eats noodles, an infant who is desperately in love with Cheerios, and my own long-standing addiction to Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie Frozen Yogurt.

The last thing I need right now is Passover.

So, why bother?  Even if I were to decide to bail on most of Passover, we’d still go to a seder at Bubbe and Zayde’s house, tell the stories, and eat the matzoh.  I could easily slip a few plates of noo-noos to Frieda over the course of the week, and she’ll never be the wiser – she’s still trying to figure out the difference between parsley and bitter herbs (for that matter, so am I). And to be honest, I’m not too worried about a lightning bolt blazing out of the sky the second I take bite of toast in the morning.

Again, I ask you, why bother?  Yeah, yeah, I know all about the mitzvah of telling our children the Exodus story, but to be honest, we’ve been doing that for weeks now.  We’ve been singing about Old King Pharaoh and the frogs in his bed and my toddler was belting out Dayenu on the toilet this afternoon.  We’ve been reading the books, too, although in my infant’s case, it’s more like eating. (I wonder if those are kosher for Passover…)

And then there’s the seder.  The baby will be asleep before we get to the karpas, I can guarantee you that my toddler won’t touch the parsley or maror, and I’d be shocked if I can get her to try just one bite of the haroset.

Yet, despite it all, we’re going to observe Pesach this year.  We’ve bought enough matzoh to survive the week, and we’re going to clean out the kitchen and ditch the chometz.  We’re hosting six little-ankle biters and their parents for a toddler-friendly second seder.  I have no idea what I’ll feed the kids, but I’ve never heard of anyone starving due to a lack of macaroni.

But I still haven’t answered my question – why?  Well, in other years I might have some noble and lofty reasons, but this year, well, I’m tired.  And busy.  Instead, I’m going to trust in the wisdom of Jews much smarter than me, including Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who reminded us that:

A Jew is asked to take a leap of action rather than a leap of thought. He is asked to do more than he understands in order to understand more than he does.

And so, even though I’m not entirely sure what the point of keeping Passover is this year, leap I shall. Not unlike those frogs in Old King Pharaoh’s bed, actually, but hopefully with a bit more insight at the end of it all.

Go here for (almost) everything you need to know about Passover!

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