A few thoughts before Passover-
1. The best time to clean your fridge and freezer for Pesach is when you are hungry.
2. Very pleased to have received a review copy of Rabbi Eliezer Melamed’s Laws of Pesah (Peninei Halakha) (Yeshivat Har Bracha and Maggid Books) trans. Yehoshua Wertheimer and Moshe Rapps). It is helpful to have something to help review halachot of Pesach, and this is a handy guide, with good footnotes. I actually pulled out the book to review the halachot of Hagalat Keilim and Libun (Releasing absorbed taste in eating utensils through heat and fire.) BUT I got distracted by other sections, with interesting and fresh material. In particular, footnote 4 in Chapter 15, The Hagada. Did you know about the custom of saying the bracha of “Al Sipur Yitziat Mitzrayim” on the telling of the story of the Exodus? We don’t do this today, and Rav Melamed brings various opinions as to why not. I also loved the section in the back which gave a brief overview of the many authorities quoted by Rabbi Melamed, including many religious Zionist rabbis, who may not be familiar to North Americans.
3. Someone mentioned to me that R. Shmuel Herzfeld’s new Hagada The Lieberman Open Orthodox Haggadah Gefen Publishing House, was reviewed in the Jerusalem Post, but that the artist name had been botched, and listed as Caryl Meyer Lieberman. I want to note that the artist’s name is Caryl Herzfeld. She is a prize winning artist, has taken part in numerous exhibitions, and is a long time member of the prestigious art students league, in New York. Her current work is funded by a grant she received. I am been a longtime fan (disclosure: I have a personal relationship with the artist and main author of the haggdah. I also have some of the artist’s works in my home.) You too can have a work of hers in your home, but I’ll write about that more in another post.
4. While on the subject of the The Lieberman Open Orthodox Haggadah, I highly recommend reading the haggadah as it is good for your midot or character building. I don’t love the title but I find the content meaningful and thought provoking. This morning my daughter asked me what we were going to do with the chametz, and I started to explain to her the process of Mechirat Chametz (selling chametz.) I then told her that later I would read her Michel Martin’s article on the topic. Martin, of NPR, buys Ohev Shalom’s chametz every year.
A quote: “Buying chametz is sometimes inconvenient and even a little daunting…But neighborliness demands accomodation even when inconvenient.”
I also liked that Maharat Ruth Balinsky Friedman’s chose to discuss inclusion for infertile couples as her guest post topic. I personally always wonder, why we focus on certain midrashim and not others, and the midrash about women in Egypt having sextuplets is definitely a popular one. M. Balinsky Friedman asks us to think about how this midrash, and the centricity of family in our communities might feel for families who are struggling to have children or who can not have children. She also makes some recommendations on how to include them and relate to their pain.
The haggada has many other useful features, including the simple questions (great for opening discussions with children) in each section.
Thats it for my thoughts before Passover. Wishing you a chag sameach!