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Passover 5773-2013 Is Around the Corner

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Following is the essential Passover set of reminders, if you will. We strongly recommend that you consult a rabbi or a friend or a friendly rabbi for any one of these items which may cause you anxiety. Obviously, one can spend all the time starting after Hanukah in preparation for Passover, but most of us don’t.

Passover—Pesach, the Jewish festival celebrating our redemption from slavery in Egypt in the 1250s BCE, begins on the 14th day of the month of Nisan in the Jewish calendar, which is in spring in the Northern Hemisphere, and this year begins at sunset, Monday, March 25.

Passover  is celebrated for seven days in Israel, eight days everywhere else. It is one of the top four Jewish holidays celebrated in America, alongside Hanukah, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur.

Passover-Pesach is unique among the holidays on the Jewish calendar in its prohibition against chametz, which is defined as five types of grains that have been combined with water and left to stand for more than eighteen minutes—the renowned “leavening” or fermentation. This includes bread and cake, but also a very long list of products, not all of them foodstuff.

The consumption, keeping, and owning of chametz is forbidden during Passover.

A typical observant Jewish home combines several means of dealing with this prohibition (you’ll be amazed how much of your physical space is mired in chametz):

1. A thorough scrubbing of all the areas in the home where food will be produced or consumed. The ground rule here is that the chametz should be removed in a manner similar to the way it was introduced—if it was through heat, then the particular utensil should be cleaned and heated for a period of up to one hour, and so on.

2. Covering all the areas where food is produced or consumed with paper, plastic, or aluminum foil sheets.

3. Storing all the chametz products of value (think single malt whiskey) in designated areas which are sealed until after Passover. Those areas are then sold through a special broker to a gentile for the duration of the holiday. You can also do it over the Internet, check out any one of these chametz sale websites.

4. On the eve of Passover, the head of the family checks the entire domicile for chametz, after which they recite an announcement that any chametz stuff that has not been discovered and eliminated no longer belongs to them (see it in the early pages of your Passover Haggadah).

After sunset, Monday, March 25, we all sit down around the seder table, to read the Haggadah, drink 4 cups of wine and eat our first bite of Matzah. This should take us well into the night, when we eat the Afikoman.

If you’re in the diaspora, you get to do the whole thing a second time on Tuesday evening. In Israel you enter the Chol Hamoed-intermediary days of Passover a day early. The holiday will be over in Israel on Monday night, April 1, and elsewhere on Tuesday night, April 2.

Please use the comments to add anything we may have skipped – remember, we were shooting for the essentials.

Happy New Year…But….

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

But I celebrated the beginning of my new year three months ago. I took stock of what I had done the year before, what I should have done, what I didn’t do. I thought about those I had hurt and those who had hurt me. I tried to let go of the anger I felt towards some, knowing it was just pulling me down and I did an accounting of all that God has given to me so that I could thank Him for each blessing, each child, each bit of love in my life.

I listened to the cleansing call of the shofar, the ram’s horn, which reaches deep into your soul and reminds you of the beauty of life. I closed out the world for more than 48 hours to accomplish this, to focus on my world, my family, my country, my life, me. This is the Jewish new year; this is what Jews celebrate, anticipate, acknowledge and adhere to.

And when all was said and done, back those three months ago, I began a new year with hopes and dreams and a belief that all would be well. I still believe in those dreams and hopes, despite that little detour a while back which took my country to the edge of war and my son into a shower of incoming rockets.

Many of my Christian friends wished me a happy new year and I thanked them as I celebrated my new year, the start of a new cycle, a new calendar. My year is charted by the moon and incredibly tied to the land of Israel. In many ways, you can’t imagine the deepest meaning of the days and weeks and months of the Jewish calendar that pass without understanding how Israel is tied to the year’s passing. The rains come, almost always after Sukkot; and end, almost always before Passover.

In America, we celebrated Tu B’Shevat and are told it is the “new year of the trees.” So we put money in a blue box labeled “Jewish National Fund” or paid to plant a tree in Israel in memory of someone, got a certificate, and called it a day. But you have to be here in Israel to see the truest meaning of the day. We see the forests planted by all those blue boxes but even more incredible. Did you know the flowers of the almond trees bloom – they really do – on the 15th day of the month of Shevat – isn’t that incredible? Oh, not everywhere and not every tree – but many of them.

On Chanuka in America, we light our menorah in a window as our children marvel at the colorful lights brightening the homes and trees of our neighbors for a celebration that is often weeks away. Our modest little candles that burn at night are for some ancient victory in a far away land. In Israel – almost every window has those shining lights; they are on street corners and roofs of buildings. And as we drive, we pass the graves of those who fought the battle to end tyranny in our land and rekindle the lights in the Holy Temple. This is where that battle was fought. In America, children play with the dreidal, a spinning top with four letters representing the words, “a great miracle happened THERE.” And here in Israel, our children play with a different dreidel that says, “a great miracle happened HERE.” Here, not there. Ours, not theirs.

And so we get to the point of this post. Two nights ago, it was December 31 – the end of the calendar year, the solar year. We live in a world that runs by the sun, and yet it is the moon the reminds my people of where we are, who we are, and where we are going. December 31 does end a year – a solar year, a fiscal year.

A year…but not my year, not my calendar. All over Facebook, over emails and the Internet, everyone is wishing each other a happy new year but a part of me stands back. I wish them all a happy new year. I hope that it will be a year of hope and health, love and laughter. But when someone wishes me the same, it feels strange. It isn’t mine, I want to say. It is part of a culture I left behind  - chose to leave behind. My not accepting it, not making it special, not partying or whatever is not a rejection of you. It is a rejection FOR ME.

I worked yesterday; as I worked the day before and as I work today. I have wished friends and clients in America, India and Europe a happy new year – their year. For centuries, Jews were forced to live separately – in many places – England, France, Sweden (where Jews were not allowed to live until late in the 18th century), Spain, Poland…Jews were not allowed to own land. In Gibraltar today, legally, Jews are still not allowed to live there despite the current Jewish community’s existence.

There is no insult intended in our remaining separate in this tradition. Please celebrate your new year and pray for peace – peace for the world and peace for Jerusalem and Israel.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Mayan Calendar Expires, No Apocalypse So Far, See You in 2240

Friday, December 21st, 2012

We’ve reached the end of the 5,125 year Mayan calendar, December 21, 2012, and much like the debate that was reportedly being held on Christopher Columbus’s fourth ship (the one that fell over the edge), we today are engaged in a debate—a short lived one by definition—over whether or not the end of the Mayan calendar marks the end of the world.

I wonder if they’ll have similar debates as the year 2240 approaches. That would also be the year 6,000 on the Jewish calendar. Hopefully, more Jews than ancient Mayans will have survived by then. I looked up the year 6000 on my Kaluach calendar, which continues generating calendars past the year 6000 without a problem.

By the way, Rosh Hashana 6000 falls on Monday night, October 1, 2239. That means a really late Sukkot. Hope it won’t rain on your sukka.

But, seriously, don’t you think the Internet (assuming print will no longer be an option – you might just install a chip in your brain and browse stuff by squinting and blinking) will be full of messianic predictions? Heck, it’s 5773 and we’re doing the messianic on occasion – imagine how fervent we’ll be when the big 6 comes around?

Of course, our tradition says that Moshiach can arrive at any time in the sixth millenium, but only if we’re ready for him. Let’s hope we won’t have to retool our doctrine come Monday night October 1, 2239.

According to a new poll cited by Reuters, almost 15 percent of us worldwide believe the world will end during our lifetime, and 10 percent think the Mayan calendar could signify it will happen in 2012. That’s December 21, 2012, to be precise.

The Australian Herald Sun, where they receive the new day ahead of us, has reported this morning: “The 13th b’ak’tun has ended. The Mayan calendar has expired. We’re still here. So is New Zealand – and they’re two hours ahead of us.”

The HS continues: “There are no reports of Planet Nibiru looming suddenly above our atmosphere. No 100 ft tall apparitions of Mayan gods have started eating populations here or anywhere else so far covered by the 14th b’ak’tun date-line.”

Nevertheless, according to the Australian NT News, “hippies from all over Australia have gathered at Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock, a large sandstone rock formation in the southern part of the Northern Territory, central Australia) to see the world end.”

“Hippies?” Seriously?

Nomadic healer John, 53 – who says he hasn’t had a surname “for years” – had a message for Territorians worried about the end of the world: “Have no fear.”

“It will be the Ending of Time and the Beginning of Time,” he said.

“There will be a shift in the world but it happens every 26,500 years and NASA will tell you that.”

John’s doomsday resolution, according to NT News, is: ” I will just open my heart and be honest and love everyone. That’s when the wars will stop.”

Hey, you stick with what works.

According to experts on spiritualism cited by the AP, “a galactic bridge has been established – spirals of light are entering your head.” As we speak.

In Mexico, which by rights be at the center of the action, some are waiting for midnight, Mexico time, (you figure it out) and the start of the new b’ak’tun over the ruins of the Mayan civilization.

Others predict the end will come at exactly 11:11 PM – wherever you may be at the time (which makes absolutely no sense with a sphere-shaped planet, but appears logically sound on a flat Earth).

December 21 is the Winter Solstice, when the sun goes as far south as it ever does. From this point on, the days will get longer and the nights shorter. That news you can take to the bank. As to the apocalypse – when it happens, if it does, at 11:11 at night in the New World, we here, in Netanya, Israel, will be well into Shabbat morning, some of us probably already engaged in Shachrit davening.

Keep us posted. Come back to this page for an update Saturday night – if you still have Internet service.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/yoris-news-clips/mayan-calendar-expires-no-apocalypse-so-far-see-you-in-2240/2012/12/21/

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