Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Passover of the generations

There are two different Passovers. One is Pesach Mitzraim, the historical Pesach as described in the torah. The other is Pesach dorot, the Passover of the generations, as celebrated by the Jews to remember that first Passover in Egypt.Until the destruction of the temple the central feature of Passover was the sacrifice of the Paschal lamb and the family feast. Today we have the Seder where we fulfill the mitzvah "And you will tell (vehigaditta) your son on that day saying" and the sages of the Talmud explained, when should you tell him? When the matza and maror are before him.. It is at this time and with these symbols that one generation passes on to the next the story of the Exodus from Egypt.

. Some of the fondest memories of my childhood are of  our family's sedarim. These were family gatherings where all the aunts and uncles and cousins got together for a big feast. The theme was - Pharaoh tried to destroy us, God saved us - LETS EAT! The kids would compete to see who could eat a spoonful of chrain without smoke coming out of his ears, there would be once a year foods like charoset, hard boiled eggs in salt water and knaidlach, and of course "hide the afikoman. Not an uplifting religious experience, more an ethnic festival. Actually one of the things that sticks in my mind is my uncle Max, a staunch Socialist (maybe even a COMMIE, although no one would say it out loud) .He explained to me how the Passover story was really a saga of the struggle of the workers who had been enslaved by the ruling classes. He might have said something about Moses and Lenin but I cant really remember, I was only 8 or 9 at the time.

This year my son Efi decided that it was about time for him to make a Seder of his own. My parents also made the trip from Philadelphia and we all made the trip south to Mitzpeh Ramon. Later as I looked around the table it struck me. Here we were four generations; my father myself, Efi and his son Oz. It also struck me that we were all bechorim, first born sons. Had we been in Egypt the angel of death would have passed over us as he struck down the first born of Egypt. I had the almost palpable feeling that besides the four generations at the table there were other former generations with us.My father in law Abe alav hashalom who passed away ten years ago on the eve of  Pesach had the nachas of his namesake Oz-Avraham asking questions about the Haggadah. And maybe the spirit of David Fenster who I am named after. He was a frimmer Yid and I wonder if in his lifetime he dreamed that his progeny would be sitting around the seder table in the Negev mountains in the Yiddishe medinah singing the same "chad gadya" that he brought over from Europe to America. And over their shoulders all the genereations from a thousand years in Europe and before, back to the second temple and the first exile , and the first temple all the way back to that first Pesach in Egypt.

The cycle of exile and redemption has in this unbroken chain of generations come full circle.On the seventh day of Pesach we had seudat mashiach. He hasn't come yet, but I believe that at the seder we could hear him knocking at the door


  1. Dear David,

    I have not looked at my blog in awhile. I just read your comments that you left me.

    Thank you so much for the story that you shared. Your words really have helped a lot.

    Nick's Hebrew name is Nadav. His mother's name is Sharon.

    I thank you for any prayers that you offer. We just found out that he will be starting radation, however, we do not know when it will be begin.

    I have taken a break from Chabad. It's just been too much for me right now. We have a reform Temple in town, however, I have never been intersted in attending.

    Again, thank you for your words and kindness. I hope to find my way back home soon.

    Hasya Ya'ara

  2. David, what a beautiful post. My best to your parents. We always think of you and Risa during that final cleaning rush before Pesach. How could we ever forget your wedding the night before Bidikat Chametz!

  3. david, this is a lovely post that truly exemplifies the m'dor l'dor aspect of religiosity that i so appreciate, value and strive for. thank you!

  4. A beautiful post. Thank you for writing this. I have come to see Pesach as the elevating and transformative experience I believe it was intended to be. It sounds like yours was this year.