Sunday, April 12, 2015

Pesach Round Up

This is the first time that it really struck me that Pesach is a time for both remembering and creating memories. It has been a theme that has carried it's way throughout the entire week.

During Hallel on Seder night, each new tune brought back a different memory transporting my thoughts to different points in my life. It was like an EMDR session without having to keep score during the process. Aside from a beautiful davening those memories put the reflective spin on the week of Pesach.

We all had a great time at the seder which was 100% focused on keeping the kids involved. It is the first time I have ever seen a decoy Afikomen. Peri made macaroons for dessert. Our hosts described the experience as going back to their childhood when you first opened the tin can and ate that first 'fresh' macaroon. Considering how rare they are in Israel, it probably had been a long time since they had that experience.

The entire night reminded me of the Seder in Bnei Brak that is mentioned in the Haggadah. The Rabbi's were so involved that they stayed up all night and didn't even realize that it was already time for davening. Our Seder had to be pushed along when we realized that we were 2 hours away from chatzot and we were still in the middle of Magid.

The Maharal points to some hints in the Haggadah's accounting of the seder in Bnei Brak as clues to what time of night it was. The Rabbis were sitting at the seder and not simply learning in the beit medrash and they were reclining and relaxing indicating that they were there out of enjoyment and not coercion. Our Seder ended at 1:30 more as a result of the adults running out of steam (kids dropped off through out the night) then out of any desire to end the Seder.

Last year we ate out at a restaurant over Pesach more out of the fact that we could then anything else. To me it is one of the perks of living in Israel. Eating outside while our hometowns were digging out of snow just added to the appreciation of how great it is to live here. This year we even had a chance to compare the differences in menus of Cafe Cafe and Rimon. This is becoming an enjoyable tradition for our family.

I also tried the Charoset flavored ice cream this year. My opinion was a little more favourable then most of the others I have read. Then again my job forces me to wade into the debate of what should flavoured coffee taste like on a regular basis.

We also did two major tiyulim over the week. The first was a trip to the festival in Mavo Moddiim. It was a chance for family time to relax and enjoy the greenery and the music while checking out some of the unique vendors. Channah and I also caught the end of a juggling act, while we went to check out a part of the festival we had missed on our way in because it was tricky navigating the stroller. Unfortunately Channah has been exposed to too much good talent that she just isn't impressed by a kid juggling three swords or blowing fire. When Scott Seltzer is your base level for juggling skills, I guess that is bound to happen. It also doesn't help that Channah used to watch Britian's Got Talent with her Eema or that Peri had introduced her to America's Got Talent the day before.

For our second major tiyul we teamed up with Nefesh B'Nefesh on their trip to Neot Kedumim. I have been on a lot of guided tours but I still managed to learn a lot including why wine was the staple drink in biblical Israel and some practical insights to the story of choosing Rifka as a wife for Yitzchak. Channah had fun doing the arts and craft project before it was time to head home.

We also got to spend an evening with adopted family before heading into the last day of Yom Tov.

On Friday Yizkor was a few minutes to reflect on what was and is no more. With a Bat Mitvah less than a year away, Channah stayed in for it as well.

On Friday night we enjoyed having guests. We decided to not go the kitniyot route for Shabbat this year, although I really wanted to.

It has been almost 12 years since I said that I would never agree to do Kvater again. I was tired of being embarrassed and humiliated by the experience. On Shabbat morning I found myself carrying a little baby boy towards the same chair that Shlomo had been in only a few months earlier. It was a completely different experience. There was so much love and hakares hatov in the decision to give us such an honour. It was really an incredible experience.

It is an obligation on each individual person to see themselves as if they have come up out of Egypt. For me this was not only a clear lesson that kept reoccurring through the week but will hopefully be inspiration to keep me on track through the next stage of personal growth.

The Jews who left Egypt didn't just leave for the sake of getting out of Egypt. They left for a purpose with a destination to get to. Unfortunately they were not able to let go of the baggage that had accumulated through generations of slavery. This made them unable to reach their full potential living in the land of Israel. That didn't mean their lives were devoid of meaning. In the desert they lived under God's full protection with all of their nutritional needs met with food falling from the sky and a chance to be close to God. That spiritual existence didn't allow them to experience what it was like to obtain a spiritual connection to God through mundane activities. They couldn't reach their full spiritual growth. It only took one generation to transition as a nation to be able to take the huge spiritual step forward.

In many ways I can relate the idea of what life was like in the desert. I have pulled myself out of some really scary places. Life is pretty good. I also feel that I still have not reached the point of being able to take the next step forward to fully embrace and maximize the potential of where I have come. We are working on ways to remove the stigma from Channah as the kid who lost her mother. I still need to learn to let go of some of my own baggage. It took the Jews who left Egypt an entire generation to make the complete spiritual transformation. I am well on the path to achieving it for myself.