This year Risa and I were invited to the Passover seder by our oldest son Efi in his home in Mitzpeh Rasmon in the Negev highlands. Now with the new expressway to the south (kvish 6) the trip from Rechovot takes less than two hours, a relatively easy drive on good roads all the way. We rented a car from Avis for the trip. I am glad that we decided not to buy a car and rent whenever we need to. For five days it came to about 650 shekels and we had use of the car for part of chol hamoed too. On Thursday we packed up the car and set off for Mitzpeh Ramon. We contributed the wine, grape juice and hand baked shmurah matzot. These are very special matzot made in the chareidi settlement of Kommemiut not far from Rechovot. They are made from hand stone ground whole wheat which was "watched" from the time of harvest so as not to come into contact with any moisture.The hechsher boasts of "chai chumros" (18 stringencies) including that the wheat was harvested by G-d fearing Jews who said "leshem Yichud" before operating the harvester, the rolling pins are sanded down every 18 minuets, the water used for the dough comes from a special closed cistern supervised year round by a special mashgiach etc. etc. The matzot are rolled out super thin by a special group of women(davka !) and baked by men who continuously recite a cycle of Psalms. In any event IMHO these are the best tasting hand baked shmura matzot that I have ever tasted.
We arrived at Efi's house in the early afternoon and everything there was already prepared. The charoset mixed the horseradish ground, the Lettuce rinsed and the food for the meal cooking in the kitchen. Our daughter-in-law Ora is amazing. She is totally organized with each of the five children ( one to ten years old)r washed and dressed for the holiday the four little girls in new holiday dresses. She went about finishing the last preparations and giving out orders to the children, calm and collected without ever raising her voice. I honestly don't know how she does it. I sat down with our oldest grandson Oz Avraham and we talked about the halachot of the seder. He also asked me about the siyyum that I had made earlier that morning, traditionally made by firstborn sons to commemorate the miracle of the plague of the firstborn where Hashem passed over the firstborn of Israel and struck down the firstborn of Egypt (see my previous post). I explained that the Gemarra Yerushalmi gave the laws of moving forbidden objects on Shabbat. I mentioned that in the time of Chazal they had a special press which was used for smoothing out wrinkled clothes and the gemarra dealt with the question of whether or not it was permitted to use or move this press on Shabbat. Oz asked me if moving parts of the press could be compared to opening and closing the door of a house and therefore be permitted. I was amazed that Oz (10 years old) was familiar with the relevant Mishnah and actually asked the same question asked in the classical commentaries.I told him that the commentary Korban Haeidah explained that while it is permitted to open or close a door it is forbidden to dismantle the door or set it on its hinges. In the same way it is forbidden to assemble or dismantle the launderer's press which is bolted to the floor and therefore considered part of the building. Discussing a knotty problem in the gemarra with your grandson-now that is real nachas !!
In the evening we sat down to the Seder led by Efi. Efi is a Rav and educational counselor in the Mitzpeh Ramon high school Yeshiva, and he masterfully led the seder giving everyone especially the children a chance to participate. To explain why the Haggadah enumerates the particulars of all the plagues and miracles he made up a parable.A king sent his favorite son on a long journey. the prince sat in the carriage and was unaware of what was happening outside. The king sent his special guard to protect the prince. A gang of rebels tried to attack the carriage but the guard chased them away.The guard also protected them from wild animals and made sure that the carriage stayed on the right course. When the carriage arrived at the royal palace the guard brought a step ladder so that the prince could climb down. The prince said to the king that he wanted to thank the guard for helping him get down from the carriage. The king said to him that he should first thank the guard for saving him from the many dangers of the journey. In the same way we must thank Hashem for each and every one of the signs and miracles he performed for us in the Exodus from Egypt and the sojourn in the desert. During this story the children hung on every word, with total concentration.
Another chiddush was that after the "Dayyenu" hymn which enumerates fifteen stages of the deliverance from Egypt saying that each stage in and of itself would have been enough for us to give praise to Hashem,Efi asked each of us to say our own personal "dayyenu". When it was my turn I said that if Hashem had only shown me the way of teshuva-dayyenu. If He had only brought me out of the diaspora to the land of Israel-dayyenu. If He had only given me my beloved wife-dayyenu. If He had only given us our six precious children-dayyenu. If He had only granted us our twelve grandchildren-dayyenu. How much more so that I must give thanks for all of these and many other things that Hashem has granted me. Dayyenu vedayyenu