Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Children Get It: Passing Down our Beliefs to our Children

Pesach is now over, and we are now in the process of counting the Omer. My Pesach dishes have been put away and most things used put back into a storage container labeled with the feast's name with a black permanent marker. Much time and energy were invested in preparing for the feast to the last detail. New dishes were purchased which was a whole ordeal in itself, as I had to make several trips back to the store to get the right match and take back a set with a broken bowl. We changed our kitchen drapes to a gold and white combination for the special occasion, to go along with the table settings and tablecloths. Everything was beautiful and specially set apart for this occasion.

Although I do love to have beautifully table settings, this was not the main focus of this time. Our priority for all the prep was twofold. First of all, we wanted to make sure that all the chametz was destroyed and no trace of it left in our homes, in order to obey the command. To us this meant using separate dishes than the ones we normally use throughout the year in which we eat all manner of foods containing chametz. Next, we wanted to make it quite clear to our children of the importance of obeying the commandment and the special care and deliberate effort invested in this. When we begin our preparations, the children get the importance of the coming date. They remember all the detailed cleaning. They get why we will no longer be using our commonly used dishes for our daily meals. They get our diet for the next few days will be undergoing some major changes. Everything is different, and they get why. And if they are too young, it's an excellent opportunity for them to begin learning and storing up memories for future years.

This time becomes a time of anticipation. We actually look forward to this feast. Everyone enjoys eating the matzo bread, and the creative ways in which we adjust our daily meals. Using special dishes is also a constant reminder of the absence of chametz and its meaning. All the preparation and changes can be a good thing. It's a lesson and reminder of the biblical command to remove the leaven from our dwelling places. It's a blessing to obey HaShem's mitzvahs as a family. We see this feast not as a burden which is difficult to keep, but as a blessing that we may take part of in joyful obedience. As we finished our Seder and began picking up, we could hear our two-year-old singing in his sweetest baby voice the following chorus lines, "Dai, Da-ye-nu...Dai, Da-ye-nu...Dai, Da-ye-nu...Da-ye-nu, Da-ye-nu, Dayenu!" It was indeed a memorable feast.

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