Tuesday, April 7, 2020

A Happy and Kosher Pesach to You!

13 Nisan 5780.

Here is a little drash I heard years ago from “A Famous Rabbi.” (I’m always embarrassed that I cannot remember which famous rabbi...but the concepts are of no less value for my lapse in memory.)

Mere weeks ago, we were greeting each other with the words “Chag Purim sameach!” Have a happy Purim!

At this time of year, we greet each other with “Chag Pesach kasher v’sameach.” May you have a kosher and happy Passover.

But we have that backwards, says the famous rabbi.

Photo by Shannon Nuszen from Purim 5778
At Purim, who cannot be happy? We don’t need to be reminded to be happy. With all the costumes and makeup, kids’ games and parades, feasting and copious amounts of alcohol... who could not be happy? What we need to be reminded of is to keep it kosher: eat and drink for the right reasons, in the right amounts. Remember why we’re doing this. It’s not just mindless drunken revelry, chas v’shalom.

During the buildup to Pesach, it’s all about kosher. Not a speck of chametz anywhere. Clean, clean, clean. We are immersing ourselves in learning and relearning elevated thoughts about the meaning of the holiday. The last thing we need is to be reminded to keep the holiday kosher. (We must be reminded, of course. But last.) What we might forget is to be sameach, to be happy. We get so caught up in the minutiae of cleaning and clearing out the chametz that we forget to have fun. We worry ourselves and our families into unnecessary stress, leaving out the joyfulness that is part of renewal.

The Dearly Beloved was doing the "Box of Plagues" before there was a box of plagues.

Our kids have always looked forward to the yearly signs of the times.
This year, we’re trapped in our homes either with too many people in too little space, or by ourselves in a seemingly vast and lonely cave. Now, more than ever, we must figure out, each at their own Seder table, how to be happy in this holiday. This may be more challenging than the backbreaking work of scrubbing and sanitizing and searching and destroying every hint of chametz. But we are up to the task. In crisis, we find out what we’re made of. I know we can find joy in the work of becoming our finest selves. We can make the pursuit of excellence fun for our kids and satisfying and pleasurable for each other.

What the well-dressed shopper is wearing to the makolet: pearls, mask, matching gloves.
Wishing you a chag Pesach SAMEACH v’kasher!


  1. Rabbi Aberman ZL used to switch the order for the same reason.

    1. Perhaps we heard the drash of the same Famous Rabbi. :-) Thank you for reading, and for sharing that information. May we share many good stories for long, healthy, happy years.

  2. Keep your sense of humor. It's lifesaving.
    Chag Sameach