4/16/2006

Pesach Ponderings

Being the Jewish cultural behemoth that it is, Pesach is usually a very fruitful (preferably dried fruit) time for thinking about all kinds of things Jewish and for generating some wonderful random associations. There are some other pieces of Torah coming (including a post on the Mishna of ‘kol yemei chayecha’ that’s found its way into the Haggadah)

We all know that matzah is called lechem oni, and we’ve all heard different explanations as to what exactly it means. I saw in the Torah Chayim Haggadah (Published by Mossad HaRav Kook) that one Rishon (and I can’t remember which one; I believe it was Ritva, but I could be wrong) explains it according to one of the dominant positions, namely, that it’s the food of the impoverished. He then explains why a poor person would eat this bread – it takes a very long time to digest and therefore the consumer will remain satiated for a longer period of time. Now that just makes a whole helluva lot of sense. Don’t we know it?! I think I can guess where this Rishon came up with this insight.

Which brings me to my next point: On Pesach, people who are normally very prim and proper all of a sudden are very comfortable discussing their bathroom habits or using bathroom humor. It’s unbelievable. And I’m sure that that matzah has something to do with it.

Took a bit of a chol ha-mo’ed trip today, and visited some Civil War sites. I felt it was very apropos for a holiday which celebrates freedom from slavery. One area that I find very interesting is the legacy of John Brown. Today, we (rightfully) call such men terrorists, even if we identify with their cause. Brown was most definitely lionized by many, and it was never overwhelmingly one way or the other. It makes one think about the need to restrain radical elements of even the noblest cause. It makes me wonder about the Altalena.

The First Seder was magnificent. The tze u-lemad experiment was a great success, and I was able, through all kinds of playacting and questioning, to communicate a lot to my 5-year old daughter. What could be better?
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