Posts Tagged 'Korban Pesach'

FOMO and the Question of Pesach Sheni

On the first anniversary of Passover — one year after the Exodus from Egypt  — the people were instructed to offer the Paschal Lamb sacrifice as they did in Egypt. This  plan did not work out for everyone. Since some of the people were doing the holy work of dealing with the dead they had come into contact with human corpses, were ritually impure, and could not participate in this rite. As we read:

Appearing that same day before Moshe and Aaron, those men said to them, “Unclean  by reason of a corpse, why must we be denied from presenting the Lord’s offering at its set time with the rest of the Israelites?” (Numbers 9:6-7)

Moshe asked them to wait while he asked God for the answer for their query. God’s response is Pesach Sheni. This Friday is the day when those that were left out of the communal experience of Passover are invited back for a do-over. 

We jump from their question right to God’s answer: these Israelites were allowed to offer the Paschal Lamb sacrifice a month later. What the story doesn’t explore, however, are what motivated them to approach Moshe and Aaron with their question in the first place. What were their emotions while waiting for an answer? Surely, it must have been painful for them to be denied this central communal experience. These Israelites were “essential workers” who were caring for their community. They were being excluded and clearly yearned to be part of the group.  It could be argued that this was the original case of FOMO  (fear of missing out).

Experiencing 'Data Fomo'? - Appsee - Medium

The theme of “yearning” has always been poignant to me, and seems to take on particular resonance this year. Many of our children feel this sense of yearning right now after hearing that their camp will not or might not run this summer. And even though we know that someday this pandemic will pass and we can return, it doesn’t mitigate the sense of loss we are experiencing in this moment.

When my father passed away, I read many books on grief and loss. One quote that has stuck with me comes from Martin Prechtel’s The Smell of Rain on Dust: Grief and Praise. He writes: 

Grief expressed out loud for someone we have lost, or a country or home we have lost, is in itself the greatest praise we could ever give them. Grief is praise, because it is the natural way love honors what it misses.

Before we run ahead to meet the demands of the day — and we will —  let’s reflect on this praise for what our children miss. Our campers and staff members who will be stuck at home feel homeless without camp. 

In a poem about Israel, Yehuda HaLevi, the 12th Century Spanish Jewish physician, poet and philosopher, wrote, “ My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west”. Similarly our teens who were going to go to Israel- long for a homeland thousand of miles away where they have never been. They are  yearning to be part of Jewish Life.  This crisis has been unsettling, but the tribute being paid to the places we call home is a foundation upon which to build. We will figure out  our do-over to reconvene as a community, but today on the answer of Pesach Sheni let’s honor the question. Let’s honor our children’s yearning. 

-cross-posted at FJC Blog

Climate Proof

In Bo, this week’s Torah portion, before the 10th plague and Israelite exodus from Egypt we read about the Korban Pesach. There we read:

3 Speak to the entire congregation of Israel, saying: In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household; 4 and if the household be too little for a lamb, then he and his next-door-neighbor shall take one according to the number of the souls; according to every man’s eating you shall make your count for the lamb. ( Exodus 12: 3-4)

Why did they do this ritual at this moment? The sacrifice has come to be understood as the yearly commemoration of our emergency exodus from Egypt, but this clearly happened before we left.

On one level it can be interpreted as an act of defiance and commitment. There are those who understood that the Egyptians saw the lamb as a deity. Killing the image of the Egyptian God would be a point of no return. This action spoke of the Israelite commitment to leave. On another level this helps us understand the power of ritual itself. The Korban Pesach is not a memory of our leaving, but rather what we did before we left.  Where the Matzah speaks of our not being ready to leave, this sacrifice speaks of our preparation for leaving. It forced them to organize themselves in eating units.

In a recent article in the New Yorker Eric Klinenberg wrote about how after Hurricane Sandy governments are working on ‘climate proofing’ cities are upgrading ‘lifeline systems’.  Some of the effort are high-tech (power, transit) and some lower intensity, such as organizing communities so that residents know which of their neighbors are vulnerable and how to assist them. In light of this article, it seems that this first Korban Pesach was low intensity means of organizing the community in preparation for their emergency exit from Egypt.

UJA Federation in partnership with many local synagogues has done amazing work in responding to Sandy, but this week I have to ask are we organized enough for the next emergency. Is our community ‘climate proof’?

Read more:

UJA Federation page about responses to Sandy @
http://www.ujafedny.org/connect-to-recovery/
Provide help for those in need by donating to UJA-Federation of NY’s Hurricane Relief Fund @ https://www.ujafedny.org/hurricane-sandy-relief-fund
Learn about volunteer opportunities to help people devastated by Hurricane Sandy @ http://www.ujafedny.org/hurricane-sandy-volunteer-opportunities

LOL or CBY

Like every other year I enjoyed sweet and sour meat balls on Passover. Besides being so tasty the recipe seem to represent so much of the holiday wrapped up in a little ball. It has the sweetness of the Charoset, the sharpness of Maror,  meat from the Korban Pesach,  some matzah meal in the mix, and an egg to hold it all together.  So too, Passover is a holiday in which we remember the sweetness of liberation, sharp pain of slavery, the national commitment to make the sacrifice and break from Egyptian culture, the taste of procrastination ( yes- this will be another post on Matzah), and of course the coming of spring (egg).

This year’s meat balls were different in that it was not my mother’s handiwork. Recently my mother had her second reconstructive back surgery. So instead of just showing up to have Seder with my mother, Adina and I had to make all the arrangements to bring Seder to the rehabilitation facility where my mother is recovering. The short notice made this an arduous task.

When we got to Hallel during the Seder, more then in years past I felt that I had so much to be thankful for in my life.  Besides my family’s health and the opportunity to bring so much of our family together, I feel incredibly fortunate to have a partner in Adina to make this happen. So many times in the last week amidst all of the craziness Adina and I found ourselves just laughing. At the height of the insanity last week Adina texted me “LOL”. I realized Life is either LOL or CBY– Laugh Out Load or Cry By Yourself. I am so fortunate to have Adina in my life.  I look forward to rereading Shir HaShirim this Shabbat. Passover is about realizing we are not alone. That is why we all run to spend it with family. Having someone to laugh with makes everything sweet. And Adina’s meat balls are not bad either.

-Yes I added CBY to Urban Dictionary myself


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