This is that tricky time of day, between the time after we have removed all the leavened products from our home and before we have a Seder, an ordered meal describing the Exodus from Egypt, known in Hebrew as YetziĂˇt mâ€™MitzrĂˇyim. We are not allowed to eat the matzah (flat unleavened bread) until the Seder, and we canâ€™t just break out a couple of slices of bread and have a sandwich. In fact, those of us who are first born are supposed to fast until the Seder. Nobody in our house qualifies as first-born â€“ our oldest son was preceded by a child who was stillborn at sixteen weeks.
We can all eat, but there ainâ€™t a lot to munch on. So, Iâ€™m sitting here with my cup of coffee. If I were a Real Writer, Iâ€™d also have a cigarette at hand, and maybe a glass of brandy, but Iâ€™m just a scribbler so coffee will have to do. Maybe when I grow upâ€¦
The Seder is the Big Meal in spring, the big family get-together for those who have big families to get together here. In many ways the spirit that pervades this country before Passover is analogous to that which pervades Europe and America before Christmas. Annual bonuses are paid at Passover. Families plan vacations for Passover. Kids (and their teachers) get extra time off for Passover, partly so the kids can help the parents with cleaning for Passover and making sure that â€śleavening is not seen or found in the house.â€ť This also gives the retailers in the country a break with kids wandering around with spare money buying falafel, shwarma, pizza, playing, and having a good time. Lots of Israelis take vacations outside of the country during Passover, and lots of Jews come here for Passover to visit.
This will be the first year I will be conducting the Seder in Israel. All the previous years we had been invited to someone elseâ€™s home for the Seder and our hosts conducted it. The very first year that we celebrated Passover here, I was suffering from a terrible hemorrhoid. When I went to the doctor earlier that day for the hemorrhoid, the first question he asked had nothing to do with my health. The doctor, who turned out to have graduated from my wifeâ€™s high school a year before she did, was unwilling to examine me until he was satisfied that we had a place to enjoy a Seder. It gives you an idea of how people place priorities here.