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The Southern Jewish weekly. [volume] (Jacksonville, Fla.) 1939-1992, March 21, 1941, Image 2

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Page Two
Musings of a Housewife
Before Passover
By Mrs. Isadore Moscovitz
Purim has gone with its fun and its hamontashin,
just a few weeks more and it will be Passover. Doesn’t it
seem that the lesser holiday prepares you for the signifi
cance of the higher one? During the lesser festival we read
of a storv in which the Jewish community is saved and the
diabolical enemy of the Hebrew is poisoned by his own venom.
The higher holiday tells us, too, of the deliverance of the He
brews. This time, however, the entire people is saved to
carry forth with them not only the fact that they are indes
tructable, but also lessons learned from their slavery, an
entire teaching to carry with them in their wanderings.
The first a story to please our
fancy - the second: the story
brought to the stark reality of
life and its higher significance.
Twenty days to Passover! Al
ready the house has a different
aspect. Arnold always said that he
could smell Pesach around the
corner ... It is going to be nice
seeing Arnold again ... Yes, and
Reba, too ... Then, of course,
Grandfather and Grandmother Ru
bins will be here from Concord...
It will be good to be together
again. Were it not for the seder
I believe we never would arrange
a family reunion. Truly, Passover
is a holiday that belongs to the
family.
Wasn’t it Grandfather Rubins
who told us last year at the seder
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that Pesach was primarily a fam
ily festival ? It has its origin prob
ably centuries back in prehistoric
times when the Jews were nomads
and came to sojourn in the land
of Canaan.
Let me see—are there enough
Hagaddahs ? ... Here is Grand
father’s ... He told us that it be
longed to his grandfather. How
yellow the pages are!
Thing of it ... This little Ha
gaddah, this book of prayers and
stories and song, which I now hold
in my hand, is my bond over thou
sands of years with a shepherd
who has set his sheep to graze in
the fields of the Canaanites.
It binds me, settled comfortably
here in my home on the outskirts
of a modern metropolis aglow with
thousands of incadescent lights,
and my forefathers resting for
the night with their households
arranged in a tent and only the
moon for a light ... It is Spring,
even as it is now, and the shep
herd has killed a sheep as a sacri
fice to his God ... He had daubed
! the blood of the animal on the
doorposts of his house to ward off
the evil spirits, and he has settled
himself to devour the sheep with
out breaking a single bone before
daybreak—for so goes the cere
mony. ..
In Palestine this observance has
its counterpart in another festival
held by the tillers of the soil ...
It is the festival of the unleavened
bread ... This is an event asso
ciated with the grain harvest,
when the peasant offers up his
choicest grain to appease God ...
All old bread (Chomets) is cleaned
out of his house and he partakes
of unleavened bread as a safe
guard against a lean year ...
These two festivals slowly melt
into one holiday, a process which
is culminated when affliction
forms the embryo from which
shepherd and peasant evolve into
one great nation ...
For as Grandfather says so sad
ly, “The greater the catastrophe
the greater we become in stature
as men and as a nation.” ... Even
so the bondage in which we lived
in Egypt opened our eyed and our
hearts to the Law, and we knew
that our God is a God of mercy
and love, an almighty One who de-
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THE SOUTHERN JEWISH WEEKLY
- R.Q &&Z.C-
Religious New, Seniw
r^TRAST
crees that men must live as bro
thers ... Against this new inter
pretation how appalling a sacrifice
and a feast to bribe our God for
a better year and to appease his
anger against the sins of the last
year!
Away, then, festival of supersti
tutions! ... The Spring of the
year shall now signify freedom
and deliverance ... Even as all
nature is freed from the hardship
of winter, so is this holiday a
symbol of a rebirth of liberty. Pe
sach has a national significance.
It now means Passover, when the
angel of death passed over the
house of the Hebrews to smite the
first born of the Egyptians. The
unleavened bread is a reminder
that we left Egypt in such haste
that time was lacking to complete
the baking of bread. The bitter
herbs, which had been a part of
the ancient midnight feast, stand
for the tears we shed in the days
of our slavery. And the haroses
(grated apple with cinnamon) is a
symbol of the mortar that we
j mixed for the bricks for the Egyp
tians.
A holiday that signifies the
striving of a people for national
freedom should in truth be a na
tional holiday. This was decreed
in the time of Josiah, King of Ju
dah, Grandfather told us. Hereto
fore, sacrifices had been offered
by each family in the “High plac
es” throughout the country, but
; now offerings were allowed only
in the Temple in Jerusalem,
j I remember when Grandfather
told us about the multitude of
f pilgrims who would come from all
1 over the known world to offer
prayer in the Holy City. Arnold
had declared that it must have
been like the world’s fair of the
ancients. Grandfather laughed and
said it probably had been, for
Jews came not only to worship
but to trade as well. The mer
chants came with their wares from
Persia, Greece and Rome, and the
thoroughfares were crowded with
booths that offered the marketer
everything from golden ornaments
to raisins for the feast.
Grandfather also explained that
we borrowed many customs from
the people with whom we came
in contact. For instance, he said,
the custom of reclining at the Se
der was copied from the Romans
who always reposed at a feast.
It was Reba, I believe, who in
quired why we do not offer a sac
ficial lamb to God today. Grand
father informed her that sacrific-
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es were prohibited with the fall of
the second Temple as sacrifices
had only been allowed in the Tem
ple. However, it was explained,
the Samaritans, the oldest Jewish
sect in existence, observe Pesach
as it was adhered to 2000 years
ago at the time of the first Tem
ple. And the Falashas, the black
Jews of Abyssinia, still offer a
sheep as a sacrifice to God on
Seder Night.
Grandfather told us that the
Jews of the Middle Ages observed
the festival of the deliverance in
approximately the same manner
as we do today. And as usual we
insisted that he tell us again, as
he had every year, how the Jews
of the different European coun
tries celebrate the seder.
(Continued on Page Four)
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