Monday, April 18, 2011

D'or L' D'or: From One Generation To The Next

The house is Pesadick.  Yesterday, the junior son came over to shlep stuff up from the basement. The giant Rubbermaid tubs are unpacked, the dishes are in the cabinets, and and the groceries put in their odd Passover places.  The soup is simmering on the stove. I have no idea how I did this, but I did. I made it to the other side in one piece.

So I am sitting for a moment, thinking about trying to look forward here, trying to imagine Passovers to come, when there’s more joy than wistful sadness, and more laughter than surreptitious tears.

Passover is one of those uniquely Jewish things that has linked one generation of Jewish women to the next. Our mothers did this changeover thing, their mothers did it, their grandmothers did it, back and back and back probably to the mothers living in the first settlements in the land of Israel after the Exodus itself....although I’m pretty sure they didn’t sit around wondering if it was worth it to invest in a stand mixer for Pesach. (It is. Definitely.) In all likelihood, they took their stuff down to the local mikvah for a good toiveling.(immersion in the water.) And there are women who still take things over to the local mikvah for toiveling.

I think it’s the act of cleaning and preparing that binds us to our foremothers. There is comfort in knowing that generations of Jewish women have done this in one way or another. To be sure the methodology has changed over the centuries, but not the intent and in the end, it’s the intent that’s important. It’s through the intent that we urge our children to be part of the next committed generation. 

But here’s the really interesting part: ALL mothers teach their children the rituals and rites of the family, the community, the faith group. It’s what we do. Mother ducks teach their ducklings how to survive in a harsh world, and we pretty much do the same, using rituals and rites to bring the comfort of familiarity into the next generation. We do this so our kids aren’t re-inventing the wheel every twenty years or so.

If you don’t have kids, you may not grok this concept in the same way as someone who has patiently taught his/her own toddler “OPEN, SHUT THEM” or theme and variation thereof because there’s a memory of playing that game with his/her own parents. This is, quite simply, the very beginning of the transmission of values.

The Sages got this one really right when they instructed us to tell the story as if we had been there, saying, “it’s because of what the Eternal did for me when I came out of the land of Mitzrayim.” Think of it as giving the kids a URL to their communal past. It a long history, one with good times and bad times, terrible tragedies and unbelievable joys, but it’s our hisotry, and a rather remarkable one at that.

You see, we survived intact....and we’re the ones who get to tell this story. How cool is that?

Chag kasher v’same'ach!

The Wifely Person's Tip o' the Week
A secret to seriously great chicken soup is throwing in a thumb-size piece of peeled fresh ginger.


  1. Hag Sameach and kasher to you, Susan !

    Thank you for the great read :):)

  2. Chag kasher v'sameach to you and your family, too!

  3. Oh, yeah. The cheap food processor saved me this year. DEFINITELY worth it.

  4. Ironically, while the Jews are giving their children "Url" to their communal past, the Arabs are giving their children a different kind of "url" - the kind that's selling for $110 per barrel.

    Chag same'ach!

  5. My mom wasn't into Pessadicking the house. We just kept a box of matzah next to the Rice Krispies. :^D My aunt, on the other hand, would clean her house and switch everything over, even though she'd be spending the holiday at her brother's hotel in the Catskills. She said she did it in case she had to come home for an emergency.