Let’s be honest, the hearts of many Jews – especially those of women – sink with the approach of Pesah on the calendar. The cleaning, the seders, the menu-planning, the expensive food, the kashering, the cleaning – did I mention the cleaning? Instead of welcoming it with excitement and joy as “Zeman Heruthenu – The Time of Our Freedom,” many – because of the intense amount of work, the obsessive definition(s) of hamess, and the ever-growing mountain of humroth – see it on the horizon and whisper to themselves, “Oh, crap! Pesach is coming.” What was once a time of joy has now largely become a time of drudgery. This is why spending the holiday in a Florida hotel somewhere is so appealing.
Some who are reading this may find my title a bit abrupt and possibly a little offensive, but if we are honest we know that it matches the feelings of many men and women regarding this time of year. So, what happened? How did the Jewish people get here? The answer is at once simple and complex; simple, in that all areas of frustration share a common root, and complex, in that the answer contains many parts that developed over more than a thousand years of Jewish history.
Several years ago, after hearing from my wife and many other women (and men, but for different reasons) about their general displeasure with Pesah, I made it my business to change Pesah in our home forever. Now, my wife loves Pesah and actually looks forward to it. This was made possible by meqoriyuth – an honest assessment of the sources. It is my hope that this change can take place in other homes as well.
Over the next month, I would like to address some of these frustrations and re-evaluate many areas of the halakhoth of Pesah in light of the Rambam and other sources. This series will not be exhaustive by any means, as such as undertaking would be incredibly difficult within the span of a month, but it will touch on the main areas of the issue in a practical way in an attempt to revise the common view of Pesah, hamess, the sedher, etc.