Wishing all of my readers a meaningful, insightful, and joyous Passover, however observed–or not. Remembering ancient Israel’s birth of freedom from a horrible slavery, as well as all those who either long for or enjoy, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as our core global human values.
For those who like to “do the numbers,” and especially those who like 33s–you know who you are-this Jewish Year of 5781 just happens to be 3333 years from the date of the Exodus (Year 2448) preserved in the ancient Jewish source called the Seder ‘Olam--which is the Rabbinic attempt to work with the numbers in the Hebrew Bible. Thus: 5781 -2448= 3333. I take these dates as “symbolic” in terms of historical chronology, as most are aware that the Seder ‘Olam drastically shortened the Persian period, and is not accurate in terms of our modern historical dates for the 1st Temple destruction on through.
I am making my own unleavened bread tonight, first time ever–as I am not fond of the typical cracker-like matzos sold commercially. Tastes a lot like “cardboard” to me–or maybe I should say, as I imagine cardboard would taste! No recipe needed. Just flour, water, a bit of salt, and maybe a bit of honey. Yea, it comes out pretty flat, but very tasty.
Season-wise, Passover (Pesach) is called the “celebration of unleavened bread” in the Torah. My favorite reference is Deuteronomy 16:16–connected to the three seasons of harvest. As a vegetarian-leaning-vegan, I am more than fine with skipping the slaughter of a lamb–or any of the Temple oriented slaughter that evolved and developed through time–or any Christian extensions of the idea, which I am quite convinced the historical Jesus, as a Jew, never advocated, see my post here. I prefer the “back to Eden” idea of the Prophets, with no such slaughter, and the wolf, lion, lamb, and calf, all dwelling together in peace (Genesis 1:29-31; Isaiah 11:6-9). Indeed, Isaiah places likens this new state of affairs as a “new heavens and a new earth,” but it not the spiritualized “Heavenly world” of later imagination. People still are born, have children, grow old, and die, but in that time he who sacrifices an ox or lamb, will be as “one who kills a man.” (Isaiah 65:25; 66:3).
Anciently, this season was a household affair in our early sources–a hasty meal, that one even finds hinted at in Genesis. It is alluded to in Genesis! The festival that took place in the season called, quite literally, the “time of [returning] life,” very akin to our term “Spring.” If you read between the lines, the story of Abraham in Genesis 18 has that seasonal setting–note the meal of flat-cakes that Abraham served to his distinguished guests from the “other side,” see the comments in this post about the timing of the birth of Isaac–and how it parallels the “birth” of God’s son Israel (Hosea 11:1). And notice, just following this, Lot and his family are eating “unleavened bread”–as they flee destruction.” (Genesis 19:3). “Tis the season,” I guess one could say.
Isaiah’s peaceful image of no slaughter even on the “Holy Mountain,” of the Temple, and the earth full of the knowledge of the Creator as the waters cover the sea, is for me a powerful image of liberty from oppression and, as the Jewish people remember it, “the season of our Freedom.” May we too “proclaim liberty throughout the earth.”