Imagine; showing up to a wedding and leaving before the actual ceremony, arriving at a concert, enjoying the opener but leaving before the headliner, or enjoying the buffet and leaving before the main presentation.
G-d is in the details. Passover is celebrated on the eve of the 15th of Nissan, the very same day the Jewish People left Egypt.
In the Torah’s instruction, the Torah says “and they shall eat the meat (of the Passover sacrifice) on this night”. The Torah is very specific, the rituals of the Seder are to be celebrated on this very evening, not in the afternoon, not the day before or the day after.
Nightfall in Cairo Egypt on the eve of Passover will be 6:40 PM. (Yes, I looked it up :-)). In Indianapolis it is more than 2 hours later. With daylight savings time, it makes it a real challenge not only for children but even for adults to begin the Seder and observe the traditions in the proper time.
So what is one to do? Leave before the Chuppah? Miss the headliner?
Here is my suggestion: Gather when you gather on the evenings of the Seders April 5 and 6, children and adults, and eat good food, even dinner – save the wine for later. Talk about the Exodus, discuss the freedoms we experience today. Discuss the challenges we face today as a People.
Then after nightfall (in Indy, 8:50 PM) partake of the main Mitzvot of the Seder. These include the Matzah, 4 cups of wine/grape juice and the Marror – bitter herbs. If you have energy, stagger the cups with the reading of the Hagaddah.
My prayers for inner liberation and external alleviation from all those internal and external things that may cause angst or hold us back from living to our fullest.
Just to clarify and elaborate.
Each of us is made of body and soul. Which is more important?
This is a question that really doesn’t have an answer. In yiddish we would say “es ventz zich vu men redt”, which loosely translated would be it depends what we are talking about.
If we are talking about which has a stronger G-d consciousness, it would be the soul. If we are talking about which of the two is the purpose of our existence it would be the body. We weren’t placed on this earth to perfect or refine the soul, since it was perfect in its original form – as it is a part of G-d. The purpose is the body and in fact the body has a higher spiritual source (you can check out a deep Chasidic discourse here on the topic).
In fact the question is a silly question because we need both and one without the other just doesn’t function. A soul without a body has no purpose on this earth and a body without a soul is just a piece of meat (excuse me).
But once we bring the two together we have a living being that can do amazing things; powered by the soul anchored and actualized by the body.
The Seder, like every Mitzvah, has a body and a soul. The body of the Mitzvah is the act with all of its technical details. In this case the eating of the Matzah, Wine and Marror as per above, in the correct time and on the correct day. The Soul of the Mitzvah is the purpose, the connection and all of the other warm special components that make up the energy of that Mitzvah. In the case of the Seder night, it is the telling of the story, reflecting on the meaning of the Exodus, engaging the children in a joyous manner to share and be shared with.
One without the other is incomplete. So this Pesach when you sit down to your Seder make sure you bring all of you, both body and soul to the Mitzvah.
A happy and liberating Pesach to you and yours and a Good Shabbos!
Rabbi Mendel Schusterman
Thanks to my brother, Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman, Chabad Intown, Atlanta, for sharing the above thought.