Sunday, April 08, 2012

It's all about the food....

היום שני ימים לעומר
Today is the second day of the omer
גבורה שבחסד
A day of strength in a week of loving kindness

All the Jewish holidays have some sort of tie to food--or lack thereof. But Pesach brings the most intense relationship. Most of the other holiday/food connections are rabbinic and/or folklore creations. The food/Pesach link is more ancient than those, with the specifics told in the Torah. More than once we learn of this Feast of Unleavened Bread symbolizing our release from oppression onto the road towards freedom.

Everyone who attends even one seder becomes a part of this yearly reenactment that has been repeated for centuries. Food is not just served as the meal, it plays a central role in the ritual. The parsley and eggs; the matzah and bitter herbs--each has a blessing and a teaching.

And while Chanukah is the only other holiday where the food connection lasts a week, eating latkes or donuts is custom, not ritual. There's no blessing to separate sacred from secular, and there's no real importance given to the eating--there's no, to quote from the Maxwell House haggadah, "and thou shalt eat it." It's the candles that hold the commemoration, not the food.

On Pesach we must tell the story, and the story is in the food. And while you can get the connection from the one seder, following the tradition of no leaven for 7 days brings a different perspective. For now the seders are over, but there are still meals to be created for the rest of the week, still avoiding all leaven. The difficulty is not so much on the food itself--that's not too hard to adapt. It's the breaking free of habits, not being able to operate on automatic pilot. A different type of slavery we need to break free from.

And here is tonight's dinner offering--my first Sephardic mina -- meat pie. It was pretty yummy :)

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