Thursday, March 25, 2010
At services tomorrow evening I will discuss the upcoming holiday of Passover, which begins on Monday evening, March 29. For most, Passover is first and foremost about family and food. The Seder is of course about more. It is a meal filled with rituals and symbols. All of these are intended to remind us of the joy, privilege, blessing and responsibility of being free. One of my favorite symbols is haroset. This apple, walnut, cinnamon and wine mixture is intended to be a remembrance of the harshness of slavery. Unlike many of the other Seder foods this mixture’s symbolism is all about looking like something, like mortar. It can be a mixture of just about anything. At my family’s seder we have at least three different haroset recipes and have a haroset tasting. For some of Claudia Roden’s haroset recipes follow this link. My son Ari has been adding his own haroset recipe to our seder since his early years. It has always had the perfect look, although not always the perfect taste. We just leave him in the kitchen with a Cuisinart, apples, bananas, dates, Manischewitz, and whatever else he might find in the spice rack or refrigerator so that he can create the perfect looking haroset. I am thankful that as he has aged, the taste of his haroset has become even more delicious. Another familiar custom is the four cups of wine. You might be surprised to discover that the ancient rabbis argued over the number of cups of wine. Each cup is supposed to represent one of the Torah’s verses about God’s redemption. Some said there were four verses. Others five. Rather than sit at different Seder tables the rabbis compromised and left the disagreement unresolved. They said, “teiku,” a Talmudic acronym meaning, when Elijah comes and heralds the messianic age this disagreement will be resolved. For now, they said, let’s just enjoy each other’s company. Later this unresolved debate was transformed into Elijah’s cup. Long ago, the rabbis decided community was most often more important than being right. I have been thinking about “teiku” lately. Only this week we watched as our House of Representatives decided a major issue along party lines. Whatever one might believe about health care reform, it is disheartening that it was only Democrats, and no Republicans, voting in favor of this bill. It is upsetting that Democrats and Republicans were unable to compromise and resolve some of their differences. As a result our American community feels divided and fractured. I longed for “teiku” this week. And so this is my question for tomorrow evening. What disagreements do you long for Elijah to solve? About what would you like to say, “Teiku”—let’s just enjoy our meal together; Elijah will one day resolve our dispute?” You are welcome to email me your responses. Shabbat Shalom and happy Passover!