Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Preparing for Passover, Mother Hubbard Style

Passover is coming in three weeks. Observant Jewish households are cleaning and preparing and gearing up for manic activity - it's a lot of work getting ready for Passover. Traditionally one rids the household of all leavened products, and potentially leavened products like grains. In former times when most Jews were very poor and lived precariously, accumulating too much food was not the problem. Now times are different. We are blessed with abundance, and the hoarding that comes with it.
There are three solutions to the Passover problem. The first is you can donate your surplus food. That's a nice thing to do, but they generally don't accept open containers, so it's not a complete solution. Secondly, you can "sell" your surplus, in a ritualized legal fiction. To me, this feels like a cop out. I prefer the 3rd approach, which is to consume all the food in the house, leaving virtually nothing in the refridge, freezer, or pantry. This is both a practical solution and a spiritual discipline. To me it is instructive to see how much we consume and over what period of time. By January I remind myself not to overbuy. My family used to hate the stretch before Passover because the meals would be mighty strange - three pasta dish leftovers from the freezer with rice on the side, that kind of thing. I find it humbling to look in the cupboard and see that there is virtually nothing there, knowing that for many in our world who larders are similarly empty, it's not a spiritual discipline but a terrible reality.
My pre-Passover ritual reminds me of the Lenten compact that Feminist Finance wrote about, not buying any material items during Lent. It's interesting that going without seems to resonate with people of all backgrounds. Then of course, it ends with a big, humongous feast. Lent ends with Easter. After my house is all clean for Passover, it's time to bring in all the food to prepare for our Seder. One of the lines in the Passover Seder is "Let all who are hungry come and eat." That would be: eat matzah balls!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think we coudl all benefit from taking a look in our larder, fridge and freezer and seeing what items are in there. It upsets me when I throw out items that are passed their use by date because they were at the back of the cupboard and forgotten. This ritual clear out seems like a fantastic idea to me.