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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Aliyah Means Never Having To Make Eruv Tavshilin

Jews who live outside of Israel have always celebrated two days of any chag (holiday) because the start of every month of the Jewish calendar was decreed by the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem based on the testimony of witnesses....so in Israel everyone could be fairly sure that they were celebrating Passover or Sukkot on the correct date, but this was problematic outside of Israel. Communication to the far-flung Jewish communities of the Diaspora relied on bonfires, and by the time the message got to Babylon or Toledo, who knew if the calendar date was exactly correct or a day off? So began the custom of two-day holidays outside of Israel. The Diaspora communities reasoned that if they celebrated BOTH dates then they were more likely to be celebrating the correct date.

In Israel, the chag is one day -- so there is ONE Passover seder on the chag at the beginning of the week, then another at the end of the intermediate days, for a total seven days of Passover holiday.

What this is leading up to is this: in Israel, we won't have the three day marathons we have here: a two-day Pesach chag with TWO seders followed by Shabbat---a total of three days of prayers, of observance of the mitzvot, of hand washing the dishes and pots because the dishwasher isn't kosher l'pesach, of late, late nights, of tired children.......and no eruv tavshilin.

Eruv tavshilin is the blessing over two cooked items of food which allows us to prepare food for Shabbat on the second day of the holiday, when cooking would normally not be permitted. Because the chagim never fall on Erev Shabbat in Israel, there is no need for an eruv tavshilin.

There are those who insist that one should keep this Diaspora custom because it is wrong to 'decrease' the joy of the holiday by reverting to the Israeli custom of one day of Pesach. Two days are better! Two days of observance, two days of shul, two days of prayer and minyan, two days of festive meals with many friends and family gathered around....

Those who say this are men.

I've never met a woman who thought that three non-stop days of entertaining, stretching food, soothing tired children, washing dishes by hand, staggering to shul late and tired because she was washing the pots at 1:30 am, was restful or necessary....exactly who do you think is cleaning up the kitchen when the seder ends at midnight, gentlemen?

I am blessed with a husband who is right there, washing the pots and dishes alongside me. It just means we're BOTH exhausted the next day. I slept late on the Second Day this year, believed I might make it to shul in time for the Torah reading and fell asleep on the couch and missed it all! I was up in time to prepare for Shabbat.

This isn't my idea of celebrating the chagim.

Don't misunderstand--I and my women friends love the seder, the warmth of friends and family around, the long walk home under the full moon if one is a guest, the songs, Hallel at shul in harmony.....but after two days of Pesach and a day of Shabbat, we're all dragging....those of us who actually made it to shul this morning all looked wiped out. It's difficult to find the joy of the holiday, the wisdom of the commentaries, when one is suffering from sleep deprivation, and your back hurts from being on your feet nonstop for days.

One day is enough--I can cram all that joy and song and prayer into one day, and if I want more, then I have 6 more days in which I have the option to celebrate and have meals---but OPTION is the operative word. AND I can turn on my stove and my microwave on the chol ha-moed, which makes it easier.

So, following my Israeli husband's custom, I will celebrate the chagim to the fullest--for seven days.

And dispense with eruv tavshilin....


Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry to disappoint but we do have eruv tavshilin in israel. true less than in galut but
a. shavuot can be on a friday (like this year)
b. 7th day of pesach can be on a friday (then we keep laws of pesach for 8 days)
c. rosh hashana is two days and can be thursday-friday - then we also have the three day marathon
still all in all not the marathons you have there.

Sunday, April 23, 2006 at 6:05:00 AM GMT+3  
Blogger aliyah06 said...

Oy! And all this year I've been believing this myth of no-eruv-tavshilin! I knew that Rosh Hashana was two days everywhere, but I hadn't though of the 7th day of Pesach on a Friday--I was just thinking of the start of the holidays! Thank you for letting me know and preparing me -- think of the surprise I would have b'Eretz if I had landed with my assumptions intact! Still, at least I can shop in ONE store for Pesachdik food instead of having to travel through two counties for everything and order up from LA! That alone is something to look forward to which will make the chagim more enjoyable--Pesachdik food and granite countertops!

Sunday, April 23, 2006 at 7:52:00 PM GMT+3  

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