Rabbi's Update 3/31/2023
As we get ready for Pesach I want to remind you of a few details for your own preparation.
First of all, there is a change in our schedule for Pesach morning services. While services Thursday morning for Day I will be on Zoom only, services on Friday morning for Day II will be in person and on Zoom.
If you want to appoint me as your agent to sell your Chametz, you must do so by Tuesday morning at 11:30 using this link. The sale is being done in conjunction with the Jewish Theological Seminary and their firm deadline is Tuesday at noon, which means that I have to complete my form before that time. It is simply not possible for me to extend the deadline.
If you are a firstborn and want to attend a siyyum service to exempt yourself from the fast, you must register at this link. This will be an online service through the Rabbinical Assembly and the Jewish Theological Seminary -- it will not be held at the shul or on our regular Zoom link.
I also want to discuss a matter of Passover preparation which is relevant to this year but not to every year. This year, the first and second days of Pesach are Thursday and Friday which in the Diaspora creates what is colloquially known as a “three day yontif.” In other words, we go directly from chag on Thursday and Friday to Shabbat. This creates the conundrum of how to prepare food for Shabbat when Friday is a chag.
There are two main differences between the rules of a chag and Shabbat in terms of forbidden or permitted labor. One is permitted to carry on chag for purposes of the holiday and one is also able to cook on chag for purposes of the holiday.
“OK, rabbi”, you might be saying at this point. “If I am allowed to cook on Pesach, what’s the problem?” The problem is that you are allowed to cook on Pesach only for that day so technically, one should not cook next Friday for next Shabbat.
So what does one do? Centuries ago the Sages instituted what is known as an eruv tavshilin. We begin our preparation for Shabbat on Wednesday afternoon and therefore any cooking we do on Friday is considered a continuation of something you started before the holiday.
In order to make an eruv tavshilin one sets aside a piece of matzah and another item of cooked food (most people use a hard boiled egg but it need not be.) You set it aside and most people wrap it in foil to remind oneself that it is there and not to eat it before Shabbat Then you say the following blessing:
BA-RUCH A-TAH ADO-NAI E-LO-HE-NU ME-LECH HA-OLAM ASHER KID-E-SHA-NU BE-MITZ-VO-TAV VETZI-VA-NU AL MITZVAT ERUV.
Then recite: "By virtue of this Eruv, we (the members of this household), shall be permitted to cook, bake, keep food warm, carry, light candles and do all preparations on Yom Tov for Shabbat."
Eat the food set aside for the eruv tavshilin as part of your Shabbat meal. By performing this ritual, one is permitted to cook on Friday for Shabbat.
As I have said before about other ritual matters, whether or not you choose to do this is up to you. It is my responsibility to teach you what the tradition says; it is your responsibility to determine whether or not you will observe a particular mitzvah. But I would suggest you consider this year the possibility of preparing an eruv tavshilin and see if and to what extent it enhances your Pesach observance.
Useful Passover Links:
Kosher for Passover Made Intelligible -- 5783 Edition by Rabbi Arian
How to Lead a Seder -- Information from Exploring Judaism presented by the Conservative Movement
Interest Free Passover Micro-Loans from the Hebrew Free Loan Association
As a reminder, I am having drop-in hours on Thursday afternoons from 2 to 4 at the shul. You do not need to make an appointment -- that would negate the whole point of drop-in hours -- but I’d urge you to check and make sure I am there regardless as sometimes there are unavoidable pastoral or other emergencies which might take me away from the building.
As always, if I can do anything for you or you need to talk, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office. I am happy to meet you at the synagogue by appointment. I have been spending more time in the synagogue recently but if you want to speak with me it’s best to make an appointment rather than assuming I will be there when you stop by.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach,
Rabbi Charles L. Arian