Parshot Festivals

The updated version of Mah Nishtana 5780

  • AidelKazilsky
Mah nishatana hashana hazot mekol hashanim? (Why is this year different from all other years?)

In all other years, we planned Pesach many months in advance. We wondered which Pesach resort to go to, and what delicacies were on the menu. We discussed and deliberated which one had better entertainment, and which destination was more exotic (of course, we must be better than the Cohens!)

We planned our seders with a guest list galore, ensuring that we were seen and admired, and that we rubbed shoulders with all the right people, leaving out those whom we hadn’t spoken to in years (they deserved it, anyway).

With utmost precision, and exhaustive shopping, we worked out what new outfit/s each one of us will wear, we matched it with the right shoes, and simply looked glam. Without saying it, the serviettes matched the tablecloths to perfection, and oh how clever, better, and original our Pesach games and decorations were.

Hashana hazot – but this year – we gathered and ate in simplicity because the shelves in the shops were empty. We just were happy to sit and be surrounded with those near and dear, and join in gratitude for the health and safety of our loved ones.

In all other years, Pesach pumped up our stress and frazzled our nerves. For weeks, we planned and obsessed about every detail. We fought in the aisles for the food we wanted (not needed), and we bought enough brisket and chocolate mousse to feed an entire cruise ship. Things got so hectic and so very stressful, we eventually had to pay a caterer to boil our eggs for the seder (true story!). In all other years, we became agitated and irritated as we shopped, fretting that the store didn’t bring in tomato sauce and ready-made bagels (pesachdik, of course). We yelled at our kids, and we spoke harshly to our spouses; we stressed about the crumbs that the kids and the cookies had made, and we arrived at the Seder frazzled and in disarray.

Hashana hazot – but this year – our priorities suddenly changed. Weeks of lockdown and quarantine have given us a new perspective, and we realised that we no longer needed to sweat the small stuff for it no longer mattered.

In all other years, we lived life in control – of everything, big and small. We helicoptered our kids, and bossed around our spouses; we decided who deserved to be our friends, and manipulated everyone else like the traffic on our GPS (the quickest, shortest route to get what you want). We managed our lives with minute precision (even convincing our friends on Facebook and Instagram that we were just perfect). In all other years, we strutted around with such invincibility. We were the masters of our destiny, and we had all the answers. Of course, we took sides in every argument conceivable (there was pro-Trump, anti-Trump, impeach Trump, blow your own Trump-et). It didn’t really matter because we knew right from wrong, and we knew better than you.

Hashana hazot – but this year, we ate humble pie as we submitted ourselves to an invisible germ that didn’t know how to discriminate, and simply robbed us of all our power.

In all other years, we regaled in the story of Pesach and talked about freedom, though none of us realised we were still slaves (to our iPhone, iPads, Facebooks and Twitters). We recalled the slavery of our forefathers and the bitterness of hard labour (not really pertinent for us, except when the maid didn’t come back); we ate the matza and maror (the horseradish was really bitter this year, hey? Not to mention the price of the matza, ridiculous!) We ate it without the Pascal Lamb, supposedly to remind ourselves of an era long gone (too long gone to be pertinent), and a Temple destroyed. We drank four cups of wine (ok, maybe it was more) and then broke out singing Next year In Jerusalem though what we really meant was Next year in Mauritius/Thailand/a new Pesach resort.

Hashana hazot – but this year … it’s different. It really is! Redemption’s scent has filled the air. We’ve divested ourselves of our arrogance, and cleansed our souls of our self-serving attitudes. We’ve thrown off the shackles of our bad habits, and we have had no option but to look Heavenward and pray that this year, we will all finally be free of the maddening world we’ve created (Thank you G-d for creating corona, every cloud has a silver lining.) We are no longer slaves for we have broken our bondage and tasted freedom (the real type). This year, at the seder, as we will all eat humble pie (um … matza) and embrace our families. Let us pray with heartfelt conviction that we return to the place we call home, a place in the heart where we find kindness and empathy, connectedness and strength, light and inspiration, and that we should all finally be worthy of the ultimate gathering in Jerusalem – but this time for good.

Wishing all readers, a chag kasher ve’sameach!

  • Rebbetzin Aidel Kazilsky is a radio and television host and an inspirational speaker who teaches the wisdom of Torah, and applies it to contemporary times.


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