The holiday of Passover starts at sunset tonight, right? Not really. In our household, Passover started about a month ago -- due partly to the fact that my wife is crazy & obsessive, and partly to the Hasidic idea that you're supposed to start cleansing the specks of hametz out of your life, both physically and spiritually, thirty days before the holiday starts.
But 24 hours before Passover is when it starts to kick in hardcore.
Come back all day. I'll be doing my regular MJL day-job from home, but I'll also be updating with all sorts of crazy stuff that's going on in my house, in the neighborhood, and in the spiritual realms (I think).
6:30 A.M. My alarm goes off. Tonight the holiday really starts, but today is the Fast of the First-Born. As the designated first-born son, that means that I've got to get my butt in action and get to synagogue. Or I could sleep 5 more minutes.
6:45 AM. Yes, I am still in bed.
The reason I have to get to synagogue, today of all days, is in order to participate in a siyum, or the completion of a study of a book of Talmud. In Jewish tradition, certain fasts can be alleviated if there's a reason to have a party. The easiest and most dependable reason to have a party is when someone finishes studying something significant (most commonly, Talmud). If I don't make it, then I will not eat anything until the seder tonight, when I drink 4 cups of wine -- 2 of them before any food is consumed.
Which could make the seder a totally different and wacky experience.
But it also could mean I'd put the pass out in Passover.
6:50 AM. OK, OK. I am going to synagogue. But I really should get dressed first.
8:15 AM. Prayed fast, prayed hard. I called the rabbi last night to ask if there was a siyum at synagogue. He said there was, and also, there was an article about me in last week's Forward. Which I did not know, and is also an awkward thing to hear -- especially when the first sentence that struggles to get out of my mouth is, Do you know anything embarrassing about me now? Yes, I live a weird life. Here's the rabbi finishing his Talmud volume:
Somebody brought schmaltz herring, macaroons, and Slivovice. (I pass on the herring.) I also get asked if we have any room at our seder. Our seder has ballooned from 8 people to 15, but I say I'll ask Itta what she thinks. Remind me to do that.
9:15 AM. I run down the street and dump our last chametz trash bags in the public dumpster. On the way back, I see our neighbors, sitting on deck chairs and eating bagels on the porch.
The father waves me over. "You want one?" he says.
I am chametzed out. I am still stuffed from last night, when we had unbelievable vegan heroes at Sacred Chow and I ate enough seitan and legumes and stuff to keep me protein-ified for 14 days of Passover. (Not that being a vegetarian on Passover is hard, but still.) One other thing: They are wearing rubber gloves while they eat. I could make fun of them, but I'm sure they have plenty of things to make fun of me right back. Really, it's just awesome that they care that much.
9:55 AM. There goes the last of our chametz.