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04/01/2020 07:10:00 PM


Rabbi Jeffrey Miller


I wasn’t feeling well yesterday afternoon. It was not that pre-flu feeling; it was more like that 2:00 pm Yom Kippur day headache.  When I told Enid that I was coming home early, she asked that I stop at Gourmet Glatt to pick up another dozen eggs.  And to have my temperature taken. It is, after all, one week until Passover.

The guy at the door with the made-in-China scanner let me in, leading me to conclude that I did not have the made-in-China virus.  I do not know what was more frightening about Gourmet Glatt (Hewlett): That the checkout line, now adorned with clear protective shielding, looked like Chase Bank, or that with one week until Pesach, they have not set up a dedicated Passover aisle.  No cake meal or kosher-for-Passover Cheerios to be found.  I came home with the eggs and a large horse radish root.  It is, after all, one week until Passover.

This paragraph is for Jordan Hiller only; you can read it (if you like) or skip to the next paragraph.  Your choice entirely.  Don't worry, Jordan, what’s coming is not a Torah Byte; it’s more like a Torah Bit.  Since you asked, a "bit" is 1/8 of a byte.  There is a little Torah coming but not too much to disqualify this submission from The Vacczine.  I won't even bring in the Hebrew text side-by-side.  Relax!

Speaking of Passover, my son reminded me of a halacha 
[S"A O"H 473:7]:

We pour for him the second cup, so that the children will ask why we drink the second cup before the meal.  If the son has no wisdom, the father teaches him. If he has no son, his wife should ask him. If he does not even have a wife, he should ask himself.

What was once almost purely hypothetical now seems prophetic.  Having a Seder without children is almost heretical.  After all, much of the choreography of the evening is intended to engage young minds.  Just look again at the Shulchan Aruch's opening line.  We pour the second cup when we do so that the children will find it odd and inquire!  We play games with the Afikomen to encourage children to remain engaged and excited. 

Yet the Sages of the Talmud anticipated the remote possibility we face today, and the codifiers of Jewish law addressed this Doomsday scenario squarely.  The show must go on, even with no audience or starring actors.

Ma Nishtana Ha-Laila Ha-Ze?  

How is this year's Seder different?  That’s too easy a question.  

Many Jews around the World - and in our small corner of it - will not hear little voices sing Ma Nishtana!  We will not have our grown sons and daughters, with their sons and daughters, sharing the most important home meal and ritual of the Jewish year.  The Seder will no doubt feel strange and familiar at the same time.

The more important question – not just this year but every year – is: How is this Night Similar to All other Pesach Nights?  Says the Shulchan Aruch: Do it anyway!  The Seder is so much more than entertaining children.  After all, for all the kid-friendly aspects of the Seder, Passover is a serious, adult, festival, and the Haggadah is worth reading aloud even in the company of one or … no one.

After all, if I can yell at my TV when Carlos Beltran takes a third strike (with the bases loaded) to end the season, I can certainly sing Dayeinu, a poem that reminds me to be grateful for what he have and not sad for what I am lacking.

By: Rabbi Jeffrey Miller

Wed, May 25 2022 24 Iyyar 5782