Since this issue has to be completed before Pesach, to ensure that you will be reading it around 1 May and so that we, who are working sooo hard to get the 40 pages done, can have the time to do the requisite shopping and enjoy unpressured pre Pesach preparation (try saying that fast) this article is being written well in advance of Haggadah night. So it is largely speculative on how things turned out, not only on the seder nights, but, in fact, for the entire matzoh-munching period.
Did you enjoy the candle-lit experience, the cold repast (except for the not negotiable hot chicken soup and kneidels) as advised on the front page of our last issue? Or did you simply disregard the UOS appeal? If the former, you were the simple son, if the latter, naturally, the wise one.
Personally, I thought that was our best April Fools joke ever, as so many people, bemusedly, reluctantly and with some annoyance, actually did believe it. I have collected a few of the responses of the simple or perhaps they should be described as confused sons which you can read on page 32.
Actually, our Cape Town UOS office managed to add further confusion in their genuine, to-be-believed notices by not changing the times in their shabbos and Pesach schedules, which they received from headquarters in Johannesburg, to local Cape Town times. It seems that they really arent that strict after all, when it comes to conversions! They then published a large correction notice in the communal notices of the local press, which I hope people did not regard as another joke. Anyway, UOS Executive Director Mickey Glass has pushed off to Israel for Pesach, the coward!
This all proves that one should not believe everything one reads in the press. Arising from which, at time of writing, it is now two weeks since the Zimbabwe elections, with no definitive result. So here too one can be speculative. The initial euphoria has dissipating somewhat, with varying and disturbing reports and opinion pieces in the media. Seriously, a crying shame.
When it comes to crying, we return to Pesach. Bitter tears. Well, I must say I was all snot and trane just last night. Not one of the many old vibes tips could stop the tears that poured down as I enjoyed what could be regarded as a team-building kitchen exercise making chrain with my husband.
In fact, it was fairly harmonious bonding. Little disagreement, unlike the normal situation, when he puts foot into this domain. I peeled, he peeled; I cut, he cut; I minced, he did not mince he is not allowed even to touch my special mincer (having destroyed my Kenwood mincer, chrain-making a few years ago).
But you should know that it is the mincing that brings on the tears, even with teaspoon in mouth. Anyone who can boast being unaffected during this process is a bare-faced, dry-eyed liar!
But, but the more you cry, the greater is the end-product. So that even if the gefilte fish is cold (which it should be, UOS decree aside), the chrain is real hot! Indeed, the folk living three houses down the road put complaint notes in our letterbox. Still, we did clear the sinus problems of the entire neighbourhood, thank you very much.
The article in the Pesach issue on the farewell of Fernando the fish man in Vredehoek (Gardens actually, but try that one fast) evoked a good deal of response. Understandably so, as the shop, situated in the midst of what was for 40 years a four congregation community Schoonder Street, Vredehoek, Gardens and Ponevez touched hundreds if not thousands of people. Many a bitter tear has been shed.
It was jolly decent of him to drag his fish (feet) to the end of April, to give us one last Pesach order of gefilte fish mix. Imagine the shock had he closed down in March!
The story aroused a lot of reminiscences, other than those of Fernando as described. One letter I received was so cute that I got permission from the sender, David Gordon, to publish it. Read it on page 32.
In the Rhythms of Life module of our Melton course (year 1) Pesach is dealt with in two parts. In part one last week we analysed the relevant passages in the Tanach in great detail, with input and theorising from all sides. I now can understand how come Jewish scholars have been spending centuries zealously studying the good books. This pilpul is a wonderfully fascinating exercise, one I recommend to all, irrespective of level of observance or religiosity. It takes one out of oneself into a totally different realm.
The Melton facilitators are outstanding. Ive already learned so much. Last week we discussed the concept of chosenness, starting with Why Abraham? I am inclined to agree with the first theory advanced by the Rambam, that it was Abraham who did the choosing in finding Hashem. On the other hand, in Genesis, choice seems to be a central part of our biblical relationship with Hashem Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, and so forth.
I hope my light-hearted vein does not offend. Anyway, if you read Rabbi Feldmans column on page 18, you will note that the rabbis do indeed enjoy a spot of humour.
Returning to Melton, in the second section Rhythms of Jewish Life we concentrated on Pesach (instalment one).
While gefilte fish did not feature in our explorations into Exodus, the whys, whens, etc of the unleavened bread evoked lively and creative discussion.
Never mind the travails as slaves in Egypt, I wonder whether, in freeing them, Hashem foresaw the gastronomic discomfort he was inflicting upon his chosen people, having them eat matzoh the bread of affliction indeed for 40 years. For me, eight full days is more than enough!
AHH, BUT THE TASTE OF LAMB!
We were interested to that the Israelite slaves were instructed to eat the sacrificial lamb roasted head, legs and entrails over a fire (could that be a braai?) with unleavened bread, on the night before they were to depart Egypts land. Whats more and this is according to the English translation in our tanachim, they were told: You shall not leave any of it over until morning. If any of it is left until morning, you shall burn it.
Though kashrut does not seem to feature at that stage, I can only presume that the head, leg and entrails were not ingested, but burnt. With that I dont think I would have any problem.
I hope that this brief mention of Melton will arouse spiritual appetites among people to consider joining next years course, at which time I hope to be moving on to Year 2.
And I hope further that the promise made to Vivienne Anstey to give Melton a plug in these columns has been satisfactorily fulfilled.