Our view of the Galile

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Kid-ding Around- Shabbat Ha'Gadol, Passover

Insights and Inspiration
from the
Holy Land
Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz
"Your friend in Karmiel"
 March 21st  2013 -Volume 3, Issue 24 –10th of Nissan 5773

Parshas Tzav/ Ha'Gadol/Passover

Kid-ding Around

"Will you just grow up already!"
 "Why don't you act your age?"
"You want to be treated like an adult? Start acting like one!"
There are perhaps no words more annoying or frustrating for a kid to hear. I should know. I'm still hearing it... and it still hasn't worked. I don't understand. I see all these advertisements about recapturing your youth, all types of anti-aging pills so one can feel like a kid once again, and therapists preaching about finding your "inner child". It seems that I was ahead of the game. Why act like an adult when you’re a kid, only to become an adult looking for his lost childhood? This is a troubling question and you know what we do with troubling questions at this time of year? We save them for the Pesach Seder; the night of questions. And do you know what they answer us inevitably by the Pesach Seder? The reason is…so the children will ask…sigh…they cycle goes on.


Now the reason behind this custom is NOT because the Pesach sacrifice-a goat- is also referred to as a kid. Even though this might be confusing particularly since the last song at the Seder is about this one little kid/goat that a father bought for 2 zuzim. My kids always thought I was the father that sold them for 2 zuzim. I reassured them that I wouldn't sell them for anything less than 20 zuzim and maybe even a Dinar (or a good dinner). They seemed relieved…or maybe not. Thank God for their mother. Back to our E-Mail. Although those are not references to Seder night being "kids night". The rest of the Seder is pretty much all about the kids. In fact the Torah itself seems to revolve the commandments of this very special and important night all about children.

The code of Jewish law discusses the preparations for the Seder as revolving around utilizing all types of tricks to keep the kids up. Hand out nuts and sweets (translate pump them up on sugar and lay off the melatonin), wear a kittel- so children will ask, wash without blessing- so children will ask. The seder pretty much begins all types of strange activities that would usually get us kicked out of the dinner table, leaning while drinking wine over a white tablecloth (not for long), dipping vegetables in salt water and making all types of whiny faces, and stealing the Afikoman and running an hiding it. It continues with each kid getting up and asking their hopefully well-rehearsed four Ma Nishtana questions, which of course then leads into the description of the 4 sons and from there it's the ten plagues with all their appropriate accoutrements. Singing Dayeinu and hallel, dipping marror, fressing matzah while leaning on pillows and then all types of fun songs at the end, it is a night that kids dream of. It's all about them. So to pre-empt the Seder this year I dare to ask the question. Why?


Why is this night different? Shouldn't the most important night of the year be one where we as adults focus on the deep questions and miracles that took place? I understand that kids should know the traditions but why is it so important that it comes in the form of such strange child-like behavior so that they ask questions just to ask them? Why must we do all these strange things-almost behaving like children ourselves- to get them to ask them? Why are we going donw to their level shouldn't we bringing them up to ours.


The answer my friends, the Sefas Emes of Ger suggests, is that is precisely the point of Pesach; to see-rather- to experience the Exodus of Egypt on this night with the wonder, awe and amazement of the innocent eyes of children. Perhaps the most next most essential mitzvah of the night, after the telling/re-enacting of the story, is the eating of Matzah and the prohibition of chametz. The difference between Matzah and Chametz is essentially time; time to rise, time to get bloated, time to mature, time to achieve that perfect state of man-developed food chockfull of wholesome nutrients, preservatives and minerals and vitamins-like my cheerios box says. Matzah on the other hand is cut short in that process. It's stuck in that first state of development. Why is that the main staple? Because we are meant to get away for a few days from all our man-made world with all the answers and envelope ourselves in a world of Hashem. A world in which questions don't need answers, the wonder and amazement of those miracles and that redemption are awesome enough. We ask out of awe. We ask because we just want to be heard and we know that our Father is listening to our voice and basking in our awe. We are all His children and the Seder night is the night that we get back to that moment…through the eyes and questions of our children.


The Sefas Emes suggests that it is for this reason that this Shabbos before Pessach is referred to as Shabbas Ha'Gadol the great or big Shabbos. He suggests that until this Shabbos when we were in Egypt we observed Shabbos in some way but it was entrenched in slavery. It was a day-off from hard work. It was in an un-commanded state like the observances of a minor. This Shabbos when Hashem commanded us in Egypt to prepare for our Exodus and prepare our Pesach offering was the first time we observed Shabbos as a "Gadol" an adult. Our Bar Mitzvah Shabbos so to say. What changed on this Shabbos? We were still in Egypt. The redemption had not yet come? But we were able to see it. For the first time we moved beyond the 210 year realities of our day-to day life of slaves and experienced the Exodus and Shabbos before it had even arrived as a Bar Mitzvah boy on his first Shabbos. We became that youthful, starry eyed young man and we jumped into the commandment to forget about time and place and move above it with the faith and dedication to Hashem and our new exciting reality. It is no coincidence that our first mitzvah Ha'Chodesh Ha'Zeh Lachem- to count the Jewish months is the introduction to all of the mitzvahs of Pesach. Like a child we don't have to think or worry about time. Time revolves around us. Not us around it.


I think about the life through the eyes of a child. The incredible places their tour guide father takes them. There is nothing more precious than the wonder in their eyes as they look out at the world. Sure they ask questions, how did this form this way? Why is it that shaped like that? What type of tree, rock, castle is that?  What's the name of that mountain, that lake, that star? They really don't care about the answer. They just want me to know that they're here with me. That I'm sharing the experience with them. All the other nights of the year we are perhaps slaves to time. Slaves to our responsibilities, slaves to our questions. But on this night of Pesach we are free to return to ourselves and to that wonder. It's a hard thing to do in one night. But that's what kids are for. To help us and guide us into that world of what we once were. Into that beloved child we are to Hashem. It's not about the kids tonight. It's about us. The kids in us. The kids we may have forgotten about. As we say in the Haggada even if we are all wise, knowledgeable like the greatest sages that were sitting in Bnai Brak. Tonight we go back to that simple childlike wonder and simply re-live and tell that story again like the first time. If we could do that seder right and we make it until the end. Who knows maybe Eliyahu might be at the door to sing L'shana Ha'Baah Bi'Yerushalayim with us. Sounds crazy? Sounds like a child –like fantasy that he might be there? Then stop growing up. Don't act your age for a night and you might be surprised. Greater miracles have happened…and will once again.


 Have a wondrously awesome Shabbos and an amazing Pesach

Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz










 (answer below)

Where are the remains of octagonal Byzantine churches found

 (a) Mount of Beatitudes (Har Ha'Osher), Sephoris (Tzippori)

(b) Casarea, Mt Gerizim                                                                                          

(c) Southern Jerusalem (Kathisma), The inn of the Good Samritan

(d) Avedat, Mamshit



Park Adulam-Etri, Midras- this 50,000 dunam mostly wooded park in the shefela and hebron hills is a great palce for hiking and archeological finds. Most notable is the 2nd temple and mishna village of Etri where one can see an ancient shul, columbarium, wine presses, and mikvaot, In Midras one can see the ancient pyramid on a roman era grave and some great tunnels from the bar Kochva period. That are super fun for kids to climb through and adults my size and girth should really think twice about going through.. at the site was also found a Byzantine church with mosaics. In the times of king David he hid in the caves of Adulam from the philistines as well as where Yehudah of the 12 tribes friend was from and where he found his wives. A beautiful park a great place to hike through thousands of years of Jewish settlement.




A Seder plate walks into a bar

Bartender says: What can I get you?

Sederplate says: Nothing right now, I got a lot on my plate


A matzah ball walks into a bar

Bartender says: Is this Round on you?


Matzah walks into a bar

Bartender says: Looks like you had a Crumby day?


Moses walks into a bar

Bartender says: Drinks for just you or your staff?


The Jewish Nation walks into a bar.

Bartender says: You thought splitting the sea was hard, try splitting this check


Chad Gad Ya walks into a bar

Bartender says: After that last bar fight with the dog and cat and fire, it's gonna cost alot more than 2 zuzim to get a drink here


Elijah walks into a bar

Bartender says: What can I get for you Elijah?

Elijah says: Wait, you can see me??


A Kiddush Cup walks into a bar

Bartender says: We don't serve whiners here


Matzah walks into a bar

Bartender says: Havent seen you in a while, where you been?

Matzah says: I've had some bad breaks

Charoses and Marror walk into a bar


Wise son and wicked son walk into a bar

Bartender says: What can I get you boys?

Wise son asks for all the details of how the drinks are made

Wicked son laughs: It's on his tab, not mine. Had we been in Egypt I wouldnt have paid either.


Pharoah walks into a bar

Bartender says: So it's a Bloody Mary or well, a Bloody Mary right?


Pharoah walks into a bar, doesnt speak

Bartender: Speak up? What do you have a frog in your throat?

Pharoah: frogs here, frogs there


The Son 'who doesnt know how to ask' walks into a bar

Bartender: Arent you going to order? Helllo?


A Seder walks into a bar
Bartender: Let me guess this is going to be different than all other nights?

Afikoment walks into a bar
Bartender: I'll get you a drink, but dont you get lost because I will find you.


A seder kittel walks into a bar

Bartender says: What did someone die?


A haggadah walks into a bar

Bartender says: The way this guy rambles on, I'm gonna need my own 4 cups




Answer is B- This is one of those ridiculously hard trick questions. Answer A is wrong because although Beatitudes has a byzantine church (on the bottom of the Mt.) and an octagonal church on top it was built in the 1930's- not byzantine, tzippori has a byzantine church as well but not octagonal. Answer C is wrong because although Kathisma has a byzantine octagonal church the Inn of the Good Samaritan has pictures of the Shomroni octagonal byzantine from Har Gerizim Answer D the Nabatean cities both have Byzantine churches neither one is octagonal. Leaving thus just Gerizim and Casarea with the Byzantine Octagonal churches. Aren't you glad you know this now?…don't you feel informed and wiser?… or have you already deleted this un-important irrelevant information that was just created to give tour guides a hard time on their exams…

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