Wednesday, April 19, 2006

OK, OK, I'm COMING, but I still think this Moshe guy should ask for directions

The  first night of Pesach was lovely. I went over after work to my mother’s, and we lit for yontiff and had dinner. She made a wonderful turkey recipe that involves apricots and onions and oranges (apples too?). Very good. We had gefilte fish and soup with kneidlach, and potato kugel and asparagus. (My mother has a custom not to eat asparagus before the seder. We always do asparagus at the seder.)
I was sent home with a package of macaroons and an avocado. BTW, my mother commented on how hard it must have been for all those generations who made Pesach without avocados. How did they manage? I had the avocado for lunch yesterday. Avocados are excellent.
So far so good, except that everyone at school has promptly started presenting me with food I can’t eat. One kid decided to give me a bunch of chocolate rabbits. Another offers me her Hot Cheetos. And the teacher downstairs suddenly sends a couple of kids up with CUPCAKES. Five of ‘em on a plate. Oh well.
Second night I was off to Netivot Shalom, which was very nice. Got to be part of a discussion group about the four sons, which I will post about later in the weekend, since I came up with something that rather pleased me, and would like to present it in this forum. The people at my table were very nice. I ate a lot of eggplant salad.

Question: are green beans kitniyot? There were green beans in my soup at Netivot Shalom. I have no real objection to green beans, but it seems to me that they might be kitniyot, and also, vegetables other than carrots in matzo ball soup seem sort of odd. (A quick Google of the matter seems to indicate that green beans are 'borderline', a controversial vegetable. This, I guess, is the kitchen garden equivalent of Alice Walker's revolutionary petunias.)
OK, here’s the question of the season: why is this so gruesome for women? I mean seriously, why does a holiday celebrating freedom amount to a sentence with hard time for most women?
(Please note: I am aware that many men also clean for Pesach, both independently, and as a full contributing partner in joint efforts with their spouses, both female and male. You have to admit, however, that this is statistically and emotionally a woman’s job, and a woman’s issue. If you are male and have similar problems, please feel free to feel included in the universal feminine.)

I suppose that most major holidays pose a stress for women. The fall chagim come with obligations to produce major holiday dinners. Heck, for some people, every Shabbos comes with an obligation to produce a major dinner. Thanksgiving and Christmas are so stressful that whole issues of women's magazines are devoted to how to survive these holidays with your sanity intact. We're talking about a lot of cooking, a lot of cleaning, and often family you don't see so often coming around, plus a demented desire for the holiday to be PERFECT.

But Pesach has demands that no other holiday imposes. Stresses no other holiday approaches. What are we doing here? And why?

Anyway, since I'm skipping out on most of that, I am doing fine so far. I'm not even sick of matzah yet, although my father apparently is. I have eaten a lot of artichokes, with butter, only time of year I eat them with butter. (If mayonnaise isn't Best Foods, it ain't worth it.) I made brisket, and California Lite tzimmes. And I'm cleaning. (I realize this was supposed to be done before the holiday. I'm slow.)

I am, however, ready for this to be over, mostly because I want to do some cooking, and all the recipes that sound good go over rice.


Anonymous said...

I did it again. I missed the pow-wow and mills and have denied myself the opportunity of fry bread.

Anonymous said...

The "food you can't eat" stuff reminded me. :-)

Barefoot Jewess said...

You ask some good questions!

Maybe it's like marathons.

I don't have my own kitchen or dining space so I have no idea what I'd do if I had the opportunity to do things "right". I'm a slob on most days, so straightening up and doing the minimum is a huge undertaking. But I do love to cook. So, it makes me think of marathons- one person's race is another person's marathon.

I think all the cleaning and preparation can get ridiculous. What better time to ask oneself, how much of it is still devotion, and how much of it is slavish devotion. That's a touchstone for me these days.

Perhaps, for some, a marathon of cleaning and cooking is their spiritual thing- the challenge they like to take up. For me, it's a marathon of davenning, from Rosh Hashana thru to Simchat Torah- which means every service offered, and to do it with kavannah- I love it and I love the challenge (Yom Kippur is my favourite day of the year!). I think that G-d *does* gift us with different desires and talents, and provides us with a multitude of ways to express them religiously/spiritually.

Of course, there is the problem of acting and looking "holier than thou". :) Maybe that's our true slavish compulsion, when it exists?

Maybe the freedom is in getting to choose which personal marathon one wishes to undertake?

Barefoot Jewess said...

One other thing and something that invariably gets my knickers in a twist: people who blog about their superhuman undertakings and their marathon dinners, etc. and varied successes. Eesh. That is intimidating!

I think a little modesty and mindfulness is in order here. Silence truly is golden.