I love Passover: it is when I get to taste springtime, and hear the voices of family, both those with me and those no longer here. It’s a time to be grounded and to remember who I am, cause it’s easy to forget. For days I am lost in the preparation, and then it stops, and the song and the candle light begin. And I taste springtime in the flavors of parsley, wine, horseradish, eggs, crunchy matzah and chopped apples. I am tasting springtime! And I hear voices: my son’s new found base (he’s fourteen) my daughter joining in the conversation (!), my Mom blessing the candle light. Always my grandfather’s laugh and lilt of his voice, and my grandmother’s tired but comforting tones – their memories are for blessing. And this year as I cleaned up after, I reallly heard the past voices of my children and nephews when they were younger and so excited by the energy, and others. These experiences transformed ordinary days into the freedom only spring feels like. I awoke the next morning with more than a memory, because my eating habits and even dishes are not the usual ones. The sight of flowers will come, but it’s not there yet – vision is not a sense I associate with Passover, funny enough.
I was delighted to find in these senses a new connection of Pesach to this Shabbat’s Torah reading, which is the aftermath of the golden calf. There are some easy connections: The festival of Pesach is in mentioned as part of our new covenant. Also, the golden calf may be about the choices that follow freedom from slavery, including the freedom to make wrong choices. But it’s also partly about the senses with which Moses can experience God in some way. In Ex. 33: 20 Moses has asked of God “Please let me see your honor”. God replies that vision/ seeing is not possible. God’s Goodness will wander by (connects to Hebrews – wanderers) and Moses will hear the calling of God’s name, but cannot see God and live! And there’s a Place in a Rock (both names of God) where Moses can be. And God’s Honor will wander by and then afterwards can See. Moses will feel the Rock and the Goodness, hear the name. Just Like Pesach it’s vision that eludes. Interestingly vision is our longest range sense: taste, touch, smell are immanent and intimate.* Similarly, it’s not through vision that I experience the honor and goodness and spring-feeling and freedom of Passover, it is by hearing and touching and tasting.
The song and link I offer this Passover week is Circle of Life from Disney’s The Lion King. I have always had fun showing kids clips from the animated movie, and seeing how many Passover-Lion King connections they can find. OK Scar is Pharoah, Simba is Moses, who sees a vision of his father in a burning bush in the sky and returns to free his people, uh, lions. The moral which Rafiki tells Simba: Remember who you are! Perhaps Simba and Nala’s love song (Can You Feel the Love) connects to chanting Song of Songs at Pesach. The Circle of LIfe is a lot more than welcoming a new baby lion to the Pride, it’s about the grandness of it all, and the journey through despair to faith and hope and love till we find our way along the path – to redemption. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLIVetkn6lE
My gratitude to Rabbi Rachel Barenblat for her Haggadah which I enjoyed immensely at our seder. http://velveteenrabbi.blogs.com/blog/2012/01/velveteen-rabbis-haggadah-for-pesach-72-abridged-and-expanded.html
The poetry for the birkat, grace after the meal, even included a favorite poem by E.E. Cummings:
i thank You God for most this amazing day
for the leaping greenly spirit of trees
and for a blue true dream of sky
and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes
(and i who have died am alive again this day,
and this is the sun’s birth day
and the birthday of life, and love, and wings)…
*Although hearing is at a distance the vibrations happen within the middle and inner ear as well, most immanently.