This has to rank as the strangest Pesach ever. We are locked down and under curfew. Coronavirus is out and about, but we are not. We’ll still have our Seder night, albeit smaller, quieter, and probably shorter. Plenty of time for reflection and recharging the spiritual batteries in these challenging times.
Several online commentators have pointed out the connection between this festival – marking ten plagues and the liberation from Egypt – and our current plague ridden confinement. It strikes me that it would be good timing if the end of Pesach were to be the time when the people were let go and the lockdown removed. Unfortunately, that’s unlikely to happen. So, I’ll just hope and pray that everyone stays healthy and safe from the virus.
It is customary in Israeli hi-tech companies for employees to receive a bonus or a gift at chagim. At HPE, you were given a choice of gifts, or you could opt for the default option of a gift token worth several hundred shekels. Come the time, an email went round, and you collected your gift or token.
My new employers are a privately owned company, and they do things slightly differently.
Last week, a message went round that the owner would be coming to distribute the Pesach gift tokens. And so he did, taking his time to come round everyone, handing over the token, and offering Pesach greetings. (I had seen him around the office, but this was teh first time I had met and spoken to him.) It took him a while to complete the job, but he obviously thought it was worth doing. I thought it was a nice touch that he took that time and trouble. So, well done that man.
Oh, and in addition, we each received a Pesach gift box of wine and chocolates. Very nice, indeed. Two nice touches!
Finally, because I am unsure when I will get time to blog again, Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!Pesach is on its way.
With Pesach on its way, here’s some alternative reading about one of the themes of the chag. It’s from a 2014 essay by Steven Lee Beeber, on the Fathom site:
When I was writing my book about the Jewish origins of punk, The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGB’s, I referred to Lou Reed as both the Alter Kocker (old fart) Indie Rocker and the Zayde (grandfather) of the movement. I still believe these titles fit the man, but in the wake of his recent death, I have come to see that he is deserving of a third. Like the figure in the Passover Seder that he played annually in public, Reed was the Wise Child. Unlike his brothers, the Wicked Child, the Simple Child, and the One Unable to Ask, he saw both the tragedy and triumph of Jewish history.
Pesach is coming, and Susan has Operation Pesach Preparation well under control: changing dishes, cleaning and tidying, more cleaning and tidying, menu planning, food buying, more food buying, and so on. It’s all going according to clockwork.
For example, last night was penciled in as Matza Night.
What’s that, you ask? That’s when the Matza Man is supposed to deliver the matza.
And did he deliver the matza? Oh yes:
That’s serious matza.
Do you want to know how serious? Check out how many hechsher stickers you can spot on the box bottom:
If that bunch aren’t acceptable, we are in real trouble!
The minute Purim is over, all thoughts turn towards the start of the baseball seasonPesach. For example, we now look at food in the house with an appraising eye as to whether we can use it up before Pesach.
And in the office, there’s a different type of appraisal, as we consider whether project deadlines mean there will need to be work done on the intermediary days (chol hamoed) of the festival.
On the plus side, the tradition in the office (like many in the sector) is to mark the festival with a bonus or suitable gift. Last year, I took the bonus by way of tokens, as none of the gifts on offer were of interest. So, here’s your starter question for ten points: what unsuitable gift is the one I have chosen this year?
Don’t puzzle for too long. Here it is:
B…b…but that’s for making b…
Yes, it’s a bread making machine. Yes, it’s a gift for Pesach. No, I don’t quite understand it. I just know I am going to have to pack it away for use after the chag!
In the orthodox Jewish way of life, on the morning before Pesach, the practice is to burn all the chametz found during the search in the home, and everything left over from breakfast. In Ra’anana (as above), and indeed throughout Israel, there are several public fires – monitored and secured – to accommodate the practice.
The blessing is:
“All leaven or anything leavened which is in my possession, whether I have seen it or not, whether I have observed it or not, whether I have removed it or not, shall be considered nullified and ownerless as the dust of the earth.”