Monday, March 28, 2011

Pesach is coming!

[This week's Haveil Havalim is here!]

I wrote the following in 2007, when I was still in the pulpit. It is a measure of the intimidation that is Pesach that I can vividly remember how I felt when I wrote it.

Pesach is coming.
I know what you’re thinking: Of course Pesach is coming! What did you expect, when Purim is so last week!

But you don’t understand: Pesach is coming.
Five derashos - two for the first days of Pesach, one for Shabbos Chol haMoed, two for the last days. Not to mention another for Shabbos right after Pesach.

Divrei Torah for each night of Yom Tov, and Shabbos.

Shiurim for each afternoon of Yom Tov, and Shabbos, between Minchah and Maariv.

Krias haTorah for eight days, and a different one each day, including Chol haMoed.

Pesach is coming, I tell you.

And the shailos, oh, the shailos. How do I kasher my coffee-maker? What’s the latest on kashering microwave ovens? Does this need a special hechsher for Pesach? Why? Why not?

My grandmother used peanut oil and had no problem with it. My grandmother refused to use peanut oil, and would have spit on your Pesach kitchen.

What’s the story with mustard? Does meat need a special hechsher? What about fresh fish?

Rabbi, I’m away for Pesach; can I just do a bedikah on the front hallway of my house? How about just a bathroom?

Oh, yes, Pesach is coming, my friend.
The mass exodus of two-thirds of my shul to various relatives. We can't get anyone to come to our Seder. Maybe they go away just to avoid being invited to our Seder.

Somewhere, some community swells massively with the exflux of my congregants. And we don’t get nearly as many influxers as we have exfluxers; presumably the overflow is in the hotels.

Or worse: Maybe they all just say they're going away. They're hiding in their homes.

Pesach is coming to town.

“Yes, I know you’re busy playing Rabbi,” the rebbitzen will say to me one day very soon, “but how about playing husband a little, too? You know, cleaning up your study, the bedroom, the garage, the basement? Watching the kids for a while? Doing some of the shopping? And if you’re too busy to kasher our sink, why do you have the time to kasher everyone else’s?”

And my favorite: “You told Mrs. X she doesn’t need to cover that counter, and ours are the same - why are we covering ours?”

Pesach is coming; look on Pesach, ye mighty, and despair.

Yom HaAtzmaut will get short shrift.

As will Lag ba’Omer even though it’s a Sunday this year.

Yom Yerushalayim? Be happy we’ll say Hallel, pal.

Yom haShoah? I follow Rav Soloveichik that Tisha b'Av is the day for national avelus.

All of those dates will be ignored in the rush of PESACH, and by the time Yom Tov is over I’ll have not the slightest energy for planning more special events. We’ll be lucky if I get together an all-night program in time for Shavuos.

Pesach is coming.
And you know the worst part? It’s just five months from Rosh Chodesh Nisan to Rosh Chodesh Elul.

And then you wonder why I get drunk at the Seder.


  1. "Five derashos - two for the first days of Pesach, one for Shabbos Chol haMoed, two for the last days."

    Well moving here to Israel would help you cut down on writing 2 Derashot:) and the "Shiurim for ...Yom Tov, and Shabbos, between Minchah ..."
    ...Just saying :)

    Reason #123445 to make Aliya; 1 day Chag, 1 Seder...the way it was intended to be :)
    Don't get me wrong I enjoyed the post and thought it was cute and I am sure all your Drashot and Shiurim are all well worth hearing but couldn't help point that out:)

  2. Fell off my chair. This one was wonderful. Good to get the other side's viewpoint for a change. :-)

  3. Laughing Out Loud!
    My grandmother only used peanut oil and only on Pesach.

  4. It is only in recent years that I have learned to enjoy rather than dread Pesach. Pesach is my holiday of Jewish Pride.

    If you live in my neighbourhood, or a similar one with stores full of pre-Pesach shoppers and traffic jams in parking lots, enjoy it. Take pride in the sheer numbers. We say at the Seder 'in every generation they have stood against us to destroy us' and yet there are enough of us that the shopping plaza has to make special arrangements for the parking. That stores have to rearrange to sell stuff just to us. That even Jews with no other ritual will buy a box of matza and a kosher chicken for Pesach.

    Thank G-d for the relative safety and comfort of our Pesach. It was not always like this, and there are still Jews for whom it is not.

    Stand tall and proud over this most visible holiday! It is a miracle that we are here, and we all should attest to it!

  5. Isreview-
    The problem is that I love having two days of Yom Tov - and three, when that works out! Sorry... but I have plenty of other reasons for aliyah.

    Ruti, Risa-

    Anonymous 9:50-
    You bet; I love Pesach. It's the run-up that's difficult...

  6. LOL - is this your reminder of how easy you have it now that you're not a shul rabbi? Or is some of it still applicable?

  7. Tzipporah-
    Yes, some of it is definitely applicable...