Ma Nishtana haPesach Hazeh Mikol haPesachim? How is Passover now different from the Passovers we grew up with?
The answer is, previously women had to do hard, backbreaking work for weeks in advance, while men had to go through the painful ordeal of watching their wives work so hard! But now, things are different. Now Jewish men are participating more in the Passover preparations and now we don’t have to work so hard because there is an incredible selection of Pesach foods you can buy at Spicy Peach: cookies, cakes, salad dressings, ice cream and sherbets, Coke and Sprite, herbal teas, pizza and pasta, jars of charoset — all kosher l’Pesach! I heard that one can now buy a frozen Passover seder plate, including the maror, roasted egg, karpas, zeroa, charoset, and chazeret. Just defrost and you’re ready to begin the seder! And if you want, you can just call Kosher Gourmet and order a delicious seder in a box!
Yes, preparing for Passover doesn’t have to be that hard.
The question is: Is this good or is it bad for the Jews? The answer is, it depends on whom you ask. I took a very informal survey. Some said, “Pesach shouldn’t be that easy. When I was a child, we didn’t eat dairy for the whole week. For breakfast, we had matzah brei, for lunch, we had matzah kugel, and for dinner we had matzah balls.”
My opinion? I think it’s wonderful that we now have kosher l’Pesach tequila, pina colada macaroons, 20 different kinds of cheese, gluten-free Passover French toast, pancakes, hot dog and burger buns! Why not? Isn’t it better that our wives and mothers, many of whom have careers and jobs outside the house – and many modern-minded husbands who genuinely share the housework – should be able to make Passover without becoming exhausted? Isn’t that good for the Jews?
There is one thing more that we should do. We ought to invest our time, energy and creativity into preparing for experiencing the haggadah on that special holy seder night. Go to Judaica Corner and buy one of their seder commentaries. It’s been so hard this year with the restrictions of the coronavirus. We now know — more than ever — what it’s like to feel like prisoners or slaves. So, lets do what we can now to make it meaningful and fun — even if your seder is a small affair this year.
My friends, Judaism will not stand or fall on whether we use a frozen seder plate or not. But Judaism will stand or fall depending upon how much depth and dignity, how much seriousness and spirit will go into the recitation of the haggadah on seder night. That’s what’s really important! So, let it be observed, not only with new products, but also with a new attitude, an attitude in which husbands and wives, sons and daughters, pitch in together to make this Passover the most meaningful ever. Chag Sameyach!
Rabbi Mark Hillel Kunis is spiritual leader of Congregation Shaarei Shamayim.