Shabbat Parashat Acharei-Mot
April 12, 2014 – 12 Nisan 5774
Of Pesah and of Pings…
It is almost here…Pesah [Passover]! The physical preparations and the spiritual preparations blend into the most special of Jewish home rituals – the Passover seder!
For some reason, this year, our preparatory scouring of our homes and the search for chametz [leaven] connects, in my mind, to the weeks of on-going scouring of the oceans in search of signs as to the whereabouts of Flight 370. We have all been paying attention to any possible leads.
In particular, we have paid attention to reports of pings that might lead us to discover the black box. We have been focused on the search for clues that might potentially solve the mystery of the disappearance of the plane; that might put to rest some of the questions in the minds of the families of those who were aboard the plane, and in our minds, as well.
The juxtaposition of that search with our own traditional search for chametz, in preparation for Pesah, highlights for me the depth of our traditional observance of Pesah.
With an awareness of the difficulties and uncertainties we all face in life, our traditional search prepares us to celebrate our hopes and our dreams. It reminds us of the fragility of life, of the difficulties our ancestors faces, of the coming together of individuals, of families, and of communities to empathize with the suffering of others and to stand together resolutely in the face of any circumstances, with hopes and dreams for the future.
We do not deny the difficulties our ancestors faced. We do not deny the time it took to leave Egypt. We acknowledge the pain of all those – Jews and non-Jews – who were involved in the process of moving a people out of slavery, toward Mount Sinai, toward a Torat Chayim [Torah of Life], and ultimately toward the Promised Land.
And, we acknowledge the fact that we are still striving to see the world follow in those first steps toward redemption and come together to fulfill the vision of our prophets – to create and to maintain a world of true and lasting peace, of mutual respect, of vision, and of hope!
As we followed the news of the pings, we followed an alternating, at times cyclical, path of hope and of despair, of cooperation and of frustration. That path is a reflection of the way of the world.
In the midst of this alternating and cyclical path, our tradition lifts us up with a different kind of a search.
Our tradition reminds us to sweep out the chametz year after year – to remove the simple, ordinary things in life that keep us from remembering the preciousness of life, the value of shared vision and of community. Throughout the year, chametz is such an ordinary part of life. We become accustomed to its presence all around us. We don’t even notice it. But, once a year, we remove the chametz; we reclaim our center; we open the door for Elijah; and we dare to dream and to plan for a better world that is yet to come!
I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a Shabbat Shalom and very special, a very sweet, a very kosher and a very meaningful Pesah!
Rabbi Gilah Dror
Pesach Tips 5774
Following are some tips on traditional Passover observances:
Sunday Evening, April 13 –
Bedikat Hametz – (Search for leaven): This is customarily done on the night before Passover immediately after sunset.
This ritual is especially effective and enjoyable for children…This is what we do:
a) Make sure all Hametz has been removed or locked away, with the exception of what will be needed for the morning for early breakfast…
b) Place several pieces of bread (of visible size) in various locations throughout the house.
c) Make the following blessing: Baruch ata Adonai, eloheynu melech ha-olam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al biur Hametz. Then, proceed (traditionally with lighted candle, feather or brush and a paper bag, box, or cloth for the bread collected) to look for any leaven that may be found in the house.
d) After all the bread pieces are found and gathered, make the following declaration: “All manner of leaven that is in my possession which I have not seen or have not removed, or have no knowledge of, shall be null and disowned as the dust of the earth.”
Monday Morning – April 14 –
Ta’anit Bekhorim (Fast of the Firstborn) – This daytime fast applies to the firstborn of either a mother or father. If you participate in a siyyum, completion of study of a tractate of rabbinic literature, this may be followed by a se’udat mitavah, a meal accompanying the performance of a mitzvah. Here, the performance of the mitzvah is the completion of study. All firstborn in attendance at a siyyum are then permitted to eat!
Biur Hametz(Disposal of the Hametz) -The container of hametz, gathered the evening before, is to be burned. The burning of the hamtez should be completed by the fifth hour after sunrise. If burning is not a safe option, other methods of ridding ourselves of the hametz are also acceptable (e.g. crumbling and scattering it to the wind, disposing of it in a public waste receptacle), No blessing is recited. However, a slightly modified version of the formula for nullification of hametz is recited, as follows: “Any leaven that may still be in the house, which I have or have not seen, which I have or have not removed, shall be as if it does not exist, and as the dust of the earth.”
Preparation for Yom Tov (festival day):
On Yom Tov, kindling a new fire is not permitted; however, the use of an existing fire for cooking or other purposes is permitted.
To allow you to light candles for the second day of Yom Tov (Tuesday night) ensure you have a fire burning before candle-lighting time of the first day (Monday) that will continue to burn until after dark on Tuesday. A pilot light or a long-burning (25-hour-plus) candle may be used for this purpose. During Yom Tov, one can light successive candles by transferring the flame.
On both Monday and Tuesday nights, when lighting the candles, we recite the blessings: “Barukh Attah Adonai eloheynu melekh ha-olam asher kiddeshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Yom Tov” and “…Shehecheyanu…”
On Monday night the candles are lit before sundown. On Tuesday night the candles are lit at least 25 minutes after sunset, by transferring the fire from an existing flame.
Most importantly, have a wonderful, happy, healthy and kosher Pesah and may this year be a year of true redemption and peace for us and for all of Israel and for all peoples everywhere!
Wishing you and your loved ones a Happy and Kosher Passover!
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