Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Madame Bovary and the Second Day of Yuntif

Sometimes we find solace in the strangest places. I have often wondered why it takes me so long – up to two weeks – to write my articles, which range from three to seven pages in length. Then I found an article in a recent weekend section of the international edition of The Wall Street Journal – one of the few voices of sanity in the print media – entitled “Madame Bovary meets the mouse click,” which made me feel a lot better about the sluggish pace of my writing. The article details the efforts of team of 130 volunteers in deciphering the 4,500 page manuscript of Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and placing the whole kit-and-caboodle on the internet for the whole world – or at least, that section of which that cares and can read French – to see. It took them two and a half years to complete this project, two years less than it took Flaubert to write his novel, working four or five days a week, upwards of twelve hours a day. In other words, it would take him a working week to produce a single completed page. As journalist Brigid Grauman described, “Flaubert was obsessed with concision, the repetition of sounds, the elimination of transitions and direct speech, and the effectiveness of his sexual innuendo. He hated his natural ability to think in comparisons. He said that metaphors attacked him like fleas, and cut three-quarters of them out of his final draft.” Her description of his writing and over-writing all over the page, under and over the lines, in the margins, on the back of the page, in an indecipherable scribble, reminded me of the process which Marcel Proust employed in producing his masterpiece A La Recherche du Temps Perdu, which took him a lifetime of preparation and the last fifteen years of his life to almost finish. Now these guys were writing full time; they weren’t concerned with cooking and shopping, trying to learn a very foreign language, answering the phone, being constantly interrupted by a cat that has just woken up and is hungry and won’t leave me alone until I feed her, let alone that I spend many hours a week editing stuff for my buddy Mordy for Rav Aviner’s yeshiva. Also few writers have to share their writing pad with members of their family. I imagine that a ‘technical difficulty’ for Flaubert would have been if he ran out of ink! So if I take a little time to make certain that I at least am satisfied with what I have written, so be it. Of course, fifty years from now, no deranged graduate student in English Lit., desperately in search of a research project, would be able to go through my manuscripts. Writing on a computer, there is usually only one glorious final version, so no one will ever know how often I have replaced a “the” with a “that,” changed the order of words, or deleted an entire paragraph. An entire ‘cottage industry’ of research is being ‘industrialized’ out of existence!
But while I slowly wend my way through these articles, I am faced with a serious problem: memory loss. Do I remember with any certainty what I did or saw or read or heard a month or more ago? Can I recapture the flavor that excited me at the time? Maybe yes; maybe no. But you can’t knock a guy for trying. So what follows are my recollections of this Pesach past, five or so weeks after the fact, but who’s keeping track? It occurred to me the other day that if I picked up the pace, I might get my article about Pesach finished and out before Shavuot, which led me to consider the following motto: “Never more than one holiday behind.”
First of all, I remember spending all day Wednesday in the kitchen, cooking as much food as I could fit on our four burners and cram into the oven. In the course of our preparation, Barbara had asked me to locate a certain recipe. I could not find the one she wanted; instead, I found a recipe for a Syrian dish made with ground beef, potatoes, prunes, and tomato sauce, a recipe I had been trying to locate for several years. The recipe had initially intrigued me because it said that one would need a big, heavy pot, and, sure enough, some people we know had just given us a really big, heavy, enamel-covered pot which they had used for Pesach. But there is a special poignancy to this business. I had made this dish for some friends one Pesach; the woman was so excited about the dish that she asked me for the recipe, which I why I remember the incident. Recently, the man suffered a tragic accident and is pretty much paralyzed, and all the time I was layering the meat and the potatoes and everything else, I kept thinking about him. Perhaps the lesson to be drawn is: if you can make a tasty meal for friends, do it while you can and while they can enjoy it.
Anyway, the plan, which we carried out flawlessly, was to spend as little time as possible during the next seven days in the kitchen, and do as many fun things as we could fit in during the intermediate days when things would be jumping in The Land. Of course, we were cheating a little, because we were not preparing the Seder. We were invited to our friends Ron and Esther, as we had been last year. All we had to do was supply some good Israeli wine and four kilos. of shmurah matzoh, a relatively simple task.
I like Ron’s Seder. We start on time, we don’t dawdle, we move along at a respectable pace taking turns reading the text, either in Hebrew or English depending on one’s comfort zone – but not first Hebrew and then English, which takes forever. I am proud to say that my ability to read the Hebrew has improved markedly since I have been in The Land; I no longer sound like a third grader reading the Haggadah. But there is something else that I have begun to notice, a very interesting phenomenon. I don’t know what to call it, but I can give you an example of something similar. Last year, Barbara and I were at one of the many outdoor festivals that go on in Jerusalem in the summer – of course with lots of food. A man came up to us and started talking, and it was obvious from what he was saying that he knew us. Barbara and I were drawing a complete blank, and we were in that awkward situation that you never, ever want to be in when you have to say to someone who knows you that you have no idea who he is. Turns out the friendly gentleman was Dr. Baum, our Maccabi physician, whom we see at least six times a year! It wasn’t our fault: he wasn’t in his office. How were we supposed to recognize him in a different setting?
There are words in Hebrew which those of us who daven (pray) regularly come across once, twice, dozens of times each day in the siddur, but when we see them on a sign, or in a paragraph in an ulpan workbook, we do not recognize them. I say “we” because this phenomenon occurs with alarming frequency with the religious young people in my ulpan classes. There was one young lady who did not recognize the word “leshabe-ach,” and it was all I could do not to start singing “Alenu leshabe-ach la’adon hacol” (‘It is incumbent upon us to praise the Master of Everything,’ the beginning of a prayer which concludes every service – often sung, sometimes by children, usually to the same annoying melody, but at least recited, three times a day. But just as we do not recognize our doctor, our bank teller, our bus driver, once they leave the narrow compartment to which we have mentally assigned them, once we have finished praying and leave the confines of the synagogue or ‘temple,” the words we have just read in our prayer books may get lost in our memory bank. One of the miracles of modern Hebrew is that words that were formerly confined to our texts have taken on a meaning that would have startled the Men of the Great Assembly. For example, one of the first prayers in the morning ‘blesses’ G-d who has commanded us “laasok b’divrei torah,” to busy ourselves with words of Torah, has in it the same root as in the words for the Israeli equivalent of a business man’s lunch, aruchat iskit.) I am delighted to say that I am beginning to make the necessary connections, so that whether I am looking at a prayer book, a menu, or a billboard, I realize that I am reading the same language. No doubt this would gratify Eliezer Ben-Yehuda immensely.
And so we read the venerable text, drinking our wine, performing the required activities: pointing to things, holding them up, putting them down, etc., eating the meal and the afikoman, finishing the text, saying good bye, walking home, going to sleep, secure in the knowledge that we mercifully would not have to repeat the performance until next year; and that, if by next year, Yerushalayim would be b’nuyah (rebuilt); i.e., the Temple rebuilt, we here in Maale Adumim would be amongst the first to know.
It’s never ‘good form’ to rub it in that we here in The Land have only one day at the beginning and one at the end of Pesach which are formally ‘Yuntif,’ but I am as guilty of this lack of compassion for you Westerners as the next guy. Friday, Natania and I were going on a tiyul to Shilo, the first site of the Mishkan (the tabernacle). Barbara and I had already done a tiyul there with the same outfit, Tanach Tiyulim, but our daughter had limited time off from the army for Pesach and wanted to do something. And so it came to pass that the two of us, with loads of time to spare, were walking from the Jerusalem’s tachana hamercazit (the central bus station) to the OU Center on Keren Hayisod, a hefty walk. We were on King George, a block or two past The Great Synagogue, when we came upon a family of Exilers, a man, his wife, and two kids, all in their Shabbat finery, the man clutching his talit bag and a siddur, obviously on their way to the Great Synagogue, one of the few places in town set up to accommodate the crowd from the Galut. I can only hope and pray that I will be forgiven for this, but as we passed this family and I sized up the situation, I began singing to myself, “Second day of Yuntif, na na na na na na.” I am proud to say, however, that Natania was appalled at my hubris and gave me a good talking-to.
No question: it’s considered to be a mitzvah to be in The Land, especially during one of the three pilgrim festivals, but there is definitely a down side as well. It’s bad enough in most places in The States, and it’s a ‘weekday’ and you are walking to shul the first day of ‘yuntif’ and it’s painfully obvious that ‘everyone else’ is going about his normal business, and, boy, are you in a minority. But there, you are among the gentiles of the world; what do you expect? Here, you are amongst Jews, religious Jews at that, and all around you on the second day, the stores are open, the buses are running, and everyone else is either working or partying. On this beautiful spring morning (and it was a fine day), you are leaving your hotel room, going to the one place where there will be a minyan – where of course you will probably know almost no one – after which you will return to the dining room of your hotel for your pre-paid but over-priced meal, where you will huddle with similarly shell-shocked tourists, many of whom will be remarking that it just doesn’t feel like ‘yuntif.” You will, of course, repeat this routine for one more day, Shabbat, making it a “three day yuntif,” just as if you were back in The States. But by then, all or mostly all of Jerusalem will be joining you, and you will remember the special magic of Shabbat in The Holy City, something which you will never experience anywhere else in the world – sorry about that.
Ezra Rosenfeld was running several of his English language tanachtiyulim during chol ha moed (the intermediate days of the holiday); the others were already sold out. Because so many of his potential customers would be sequestered in the gloom of the Central Synagogue, this wonderful tour was undersubscribed, barely enough people to make it financially feasible – so I was definitely glad that Natania wanted to go. Our small group boarded the large bus, and we were off.
The whole purpose of a tour guide on a trip like this is to help conjure up what you cannot see. As is the case with so many ancient sites in Israel today, there is really very little left in Tel Shilo, that is, if you are looking by yourself. What’s there are the ruins of a town that flourished for several hundred years as the home of the Mishkan (the Tabernacle) in which the Ark described in the Torah was placed, and was during that time, the period of The Judges, the happening place for the Jewish people. You need someone to help you create a mental image, (without overwhelming you in a mass of facts and details) while you are climbing around what seem to be just piles of rocks, actually the foundations of homes and workshops and mikvaot, so that you can try your best to imagine that people lived there once and Judaism existed in a way very different from what we experience today.
As we were walking around, it occurred to me that even though Barbara and I had been here before, it was like seeing it for the first time, at least in part because the truly wonderful tour guide, Margalyt Friedman, gave a different emphasis to things, and also in part because it was a different time of year, and now the wildflowers were blooming in a sea of reds and blues, sending Natania hither and yon with the digital camera (one of the pictures is now the wallpaper on our computer), whereas months before there was hardly a weed to be seen between the rocks. I had asked Ezra why he had chosen this day for a tiyul to Shilo. He replied that by Sunday, the place would be ‘crawling’ with tourists and that on this day, at least, we would have the place to ourselves. This conversation jogged my memory: I remembered that the first time Barbara and I came, the place was filled with buses and there was a large contingent of Christian tourists who were waving large flags, perhaps from their countries of origin. I did remember the combination coffee and gift shop as well as the building which contained a scale-model replica of the Mishkan, and in which one can see a short film recreating the episode in which Eli, the High Priest realizes that a) his two wayward sons have lost the Ark of the Covenant which they have taken into battle, and b) that the real Philistines will destroy everything in their path (may we also remember and learn from our past mistakes). It goes without saying that I remembered the exact location of the ‘facilities,’ a mental feat which I have always been able to perform. On a more spiritual note, I remembered the layout of the beautiful synagogue in the modern Shilo with its breathtaking view which we visited later, built to roughly replicate the Mishkan. The one thing I didn’t really remember was the most important thing of all, which was the purpose of the tiyul. Every time Ezra goes to Tel Shilo, he goes to a particular deserted non-descript area which is contained within a set of low-set boundary walls, and he measures the dimensions within. The place in question, now completely level, is the exact dimensions of the Mishkan; and if these calculations are correct, this field is where the Mishkan, containing the Ark which contained the second set of tablets which Moshe received on Mount Sinai, stood for 390 years. And that is where we were standing. Talk about past glory. I’m sure that somebody will want us to give away this piece of property – something to do with Iran, no doubt – but I’m not ‘buying’ it. I, for one, do not want to do a live reenactment of the film I had just seen, so that the modern day spiritual descendents of the Philistines can destroy us again.
(Part 2 coming up momentarily)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Primordial Blob Meets the Bochrim

I was pondering whether or not to write about this topic, going back and forth, yes, no, yes, no, when I came upon an article in the English language Haaretz (the newspaper I most love to hate) which sort of clinched the deal for me. But when I started to work on my article, I couldn’t find the newspaper page I needed. I searched everywhere, until I realized that Barbara had put that particular sheet under Mimi’s (our geriatric cat) food bowls (Mimi has at least two food bowls going all the time: one to eat from, one to ignore. Why she needs to have four water bowls spread throughout our apartment is another matter.). When you have finished reading what I have written, you can decide for yourself whether I should have left the article to keep the floor clean!
Even secular Jewish periodicals have felt obliged to note that the morning before Pesach would be the time to recite the Birkat Hachama, a prayer which has something to do with the sun’s return to its ‘starting point’ at the moment when it was created. Now, I am already in trouble because I haven’t the faintest idea what this is supposed to mean. So when Barbara asked me the obvious question: ‘how is anybody supposed to figure out the position of the heavens when everything was created?”, I had nothing to say. Even after reading a number of articles on the subject, it was as clear as mud to me because I don’t think along those lines and there are times when my brain shuts down – sort of like a circuit breaker – to prevent excess strain on my few remaining grey cells. I gather that it has something to do with the spring solstice, and because of slight inaccuracies in our calendar, something recognized in the Talmud, the date has shifted from close to March 21 to whenever it happens to occur these days –always on a Wednesday morning – which, as always, is once every twenty eight years – although how our sage Abaye figured this out is completely beyond my comprehension.
(Like most events that occur this infrequently, I do remember what I was doing the last time it happened: Barbara and I were standing on top of the Empire State Building. The Martin Steinberg Center, a Community of Jewish Artists [where I was the head of the photography workshop], was holding a prayer service on the observation deck with a new-age rabbi doing whatever he was going to do. [I was more interested in photographing the event to be concerned with the davening.] The time before that was the year before I was a bar mitzvah, and I wouldn’t have had a clue. The next time, twenty eight years from now……? Let’s not concern ourselves with twenty eight years from today; there are times when you don’t want to do the math.)
But I was fascinated by the article in Haaretz. First of all because Yair Ettinger wrote that this event would occur on “Passover eve,” which he somehow thought would occur on Tuesday instead of Wednesday – kind of a sad commentary, don’t you think? But even more startling were the following two paragraphs, which I will copy as they appear:
“Yeshivas in the capital are holing special sessions to interpret the significance of the event. At the Kahal Hasidim yeshiva, posters promise ‘a comprehensive lesson accompanied by an enormous model of the zodiac and constellations, according to the renowned expert on the stars’ positions and heavenly bodies, Rabbi Mordechai Ganot, may he live long.’ Ganot and other speakers fill auditoriums. He said ‘many questions remain’ over ‘the thesis of a certain Polish priest named Copernicus,’ but emphasized, ‘Anyone who believes in the new system is not considered a heretic.’”
Let me join with (I hope) everyone who will ever read these words in wishing Rabbi Ganot a long and healthy life. And I am certainly relieved to know that he does not consider me a heretic. You have to understand that they love this kind of stuff over at Haaretz: anything they can find to mock and belittle Judaism, because if they can make us look foolish, greedy, malevolent, and intolerant (feel free to add to the list), that makes their estrangement from the entirety of the religion easier to justify. But do we have to make it that easy for them? Are we still engaged in the dispute between Ptolemy and Copernicus?
One way to avoid inner turmoil is to simplify your life and one way to do that is to ignore a lot of what is going on around you. Of course, you might miss out on a lot, but that’s the price you have to pay. Now a student at the Kahal Hasidim yeshiva ‘knows’ everything there is to know about the origins of the universe. On the other hand, if you were to ask a perceptive boy or girl at one of the modern day schools which some of our kids attended, “Tell me, how old is the universe?” He or she might thoughtfully reply, “Who’s asking, the rabbi or the science teacher?” And some of us go through our lives with our brains bifurcated in this way. (One of my current ambitions in learning Hebrew is to get to a stage where my otzar milim is at least ten percent of my English vocabulary.)
Let’s take a step back and consider the following situation: your young child, now old enough to ask, inquires of you why the sky is blue or why the leaves turn brown in the fall. Perhaps you actually remember the answer; maybe not. If the child starts asking about human reproduction, that get’s a bit dicey. The one thing you never want to do with children is resort to bubbe meises (the closest English equivalent would be ‘old wives tales’) like ‘the stork brought you.’ You probably want to say something that, while generally true, is geared to the comprehension level of your audience – always a good idea. So you have to leave out a lot of the details. You may also be trying to convey other messages that you feel are more important. For example, you may be more concerned about how your five year old gets along with his siblings, that he or she stops pulling the cat’s tail and remembers to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ Stuff like that, which in the scheme of things, dwarfs the need to explain DNA or photosynthesis to a young child.
My buddy up the block, Michael, was trained as a chemical engineer, and he can explain how any process or any thing works in such exquisite detail that you are sorry you asked. But imagine if you were the world’s biggest authority on a subject, or better still, the universe’s biggest authority, and you had to provide an explanation or, even better, a series of explanations to an audience that was not up to the task. That, in my view, sort of explains the dilemma inherent in our sacred Torah.
I’m trying to be careful here. In no way am I suggesting that our ancients were either child-like or cognitively challenged. To begin with, even the most wild-eyed pagan, one whose method of worship was to defecate in front of his idol (I hope no one is eating lunch while reading this!) was on a higher spiritual madrega (level) than the average Joe today. The avoda zara-nik was at least trying to locate the spirit(s) which animated the world around him; it would never have occurred to him to postulate that “things just happen,” the predominant idea of the educated classes today. In the midst of a sea of idols of every size and shape, our Jewish ancestors somehow managed to seek out, identify, and connect with the one true universal Deity and receive from Him a book of instructions called “The Torah,” which must be examined with great care. Just as it was not meant to serve as a biographical study of our matriarchs and patriarchs, it was never intended to be understood as a textbook of any of the natural sciences. Even if you go through it casually, you have to notice that, once we have been introduced to our patriarchs and matriarchs and have been brought in and out of Egypt (with signs and wonders), crossed the Sea of Reeds and witnessed the revelation at Mount Sinai, the Torah’s major emphasis shifts to an extensive list of what we are to do and not do, a detailed description of building the temporary sanctuary, what the priests are to wear, the sacrifices that are to be brought to them and how these are to be performed, maintaining ritual purity, rewards and punishments for our behavior, and so forth, leading up to our entrance into The Promised Land. Of course, one has to start somewhere, and to answer the question posed by an anonymous young man on a recent Birthright trip to Israel, “Who’s this Hashem guy everyone keeps talking about?”, our Bible begins with the single most momentous utterance in human history, “Bereishit bara elo(h)im et hashamayim v’et haaretz.” Many have pondered on the precise meaning of “bereishit,” but it is clear to the great commentator Rashi that “this verse does not intend to teach the sequence of creation…..” If I were to offer up my (very) free translation or interpretation of this verse, it would be something like “Let me introduce myself; I’m ‘The Guy’ who is responsible for everything you see or don’t see around you, now listen up to what I’m going to tell you, so you can get it right.”
What follows has to be seen, in my view, as a basic explanation of a very complex process of creation that would satisfy the needs of our holy ancestors – many of whom were given the gift of prophecy, none of whom had either a microscope or a telescope to aid them in their understanding of the natural world – yet would majestically resonate throughout the ensuing millennia, sweeping away the aboriginal animisms, the savage idolatrous gods of antiquity, the overgrown and over-sexed adolescent deities of the Greeks and Romans and their Nordic counterparts. And just as our rabbis have spent the last several thousand years poring over every letter in the Torah for its hidden meanings and interpretations, so others have been engaged in teasing out the secrets of creation in a process of discovery which has reached a crescendo over the last hundred years. And just like two teams drilling a tunnel from opposite directions starting miles apart, one has to hope that the rabbis and the scientists would somehow meet up in the middle.
Here’s an amazing idea. If I were to ask you who is the grand forerunner of the modern scientific revolution, what would you answer? My nominee: Moshe Rabbenu, the man with an unrivaled knowledge of G-d. Was it not our great leader who wrote (in psalm 90) “For even a thousand years in Your eyes are but a bygone yesterday, and like a watch in the night.”? (translation courtesy of Artscroll) The standard explanation of this verse, taken from the context, is a call for repentance, insofar as our ‘reservation’ on this planet is barely long enough to see the sights, but long enough to get into trouble big-time. Then a hundred years ago, when my parents were small children, another smart Jew, a guy named Einstein began making some calculations which changed ‘our’ understanding of how energy and time and mass related to each other and led, among many other things, to the startling but inescapable conclusion that time is not universally constant. Moses was not just being poetic, ethical or moralistic. Somewhere in his ‘conversations’ with G-d, the word slipped out that His method of tracking time was markedly different from our own. In other words, if G-d had a wrist on which to put a watch, or perhaps a pocket to hold an hourglass, the watch hands or the sand would no doubt be moving very differently from how our devices would.
It is hard today for most of us to understand this concept or so many other recent scientific discoveries: from quantum mechanics to string theory, from atoms to antimatter. Fortunately for all of us, Hashem in His kindness has created a world in which we can function quite well day to day – without understanding or pondering over the subtleties of the cosmos. For example no- one-I-know’s life has been altered dramatically in the last several weeks since we were informed of the discovery of the ‘primordial blob’ (given the name Himiko by its discoverers at the Carnegie Institute in Washington, after a “mysterious ancient queen in Japanese folklore.”) This beauty (which “could be a massive gas cloud energized by a supermassive black hole, a primordial galaxy gobbling up gas from its surroundings, two young galaxies colliding, or a single massive galaxy”) spans 55,000 light years and is approximately 12.9 billion light years away – give or take a few decades. (They determine this by the “extreme redshifting of its hydrogen spectrum.”) No, there has been no noticeable difference recently in the frequency of buses to and from Maale Adumim; the hill up to the bus stop seems just as steep since I read about the ‘blob,’ and the ants and sand flies will begin to multiply at alarming rates. But did any else read about this phenomenon and have the idea that when it talks about “tohu and bohu” (in our sentence from Bereishit) that maybe, just maybe, what is being referred to in those mysterious and absolutely untranslatable words is something like this formless shape?
If anybody else did, it probably wasn’t our friends at the Kahal Hasidim yeshiva with their “enormous model of the zodiac and constellations.” But if I were to engage these worthies in a civilized conversation, I might ask them something like this: “Silly people! Do you really think that G-d’s creation would be something so elementary that it could be encapsulated in one diagram you can hang on the wall of your illustrious yeshiva? Wouldn’t be that much of a deity, now would He?”
There’s a lot that we can all be grateful for, including living at a time when we have regained sovereignty over The Land. But how about that the ‘secrets’ of creation are being revealed to us in our lifetime at an astonishing rate – whether we understand them or not – peeled away like the leaves of a cabbage – except that for every leaf we reveal, there seem to be a greater number of leaves underneath and the cabbage seems to be getting bigger and bigger! Only now are we beginning to get a sense of the size and scope of “Day One” of The Creation and that the universe, constantly expanding, contains black holes so dense that light cannot escape and simultaneously particles so ephemeral that they disappear faster than employees at quitting time. Modern string theory postulates additional dimensions that we will never see, the contents of which we will never know, while new creatures, almost phantasmagorical, are constantly being discovered in the remotest depths of our oceans. Our Creator is even more super-awesome than we had ever imagined! And yet this Creator has ‘taken the time’ to have a relationship with us (“Hashem, what is man that you would even think of him,” from psalm 144)! Perhaps that is the main point to consider – something which you can’t fit on any wall, even the Kotel.
All of the above helped me put Birkat Hachama in perspective, as an opportunity to give thanks to our Creator, both for His creation and His kindness to us. AND (that’s a big “and”) for giving us the capacity and the will to continue our exploration of the universe around us. So that if we come to realize that our original concept of the sun – which is in fact one of uncountable stars hurtling through the shifting cosmos at amazing speeds – ‘returning to its starting point’ is a breath-taking metaphor of renewal….., that’s OK by me.
I have it from my unimpeachable source here in Maale Adumim that the mitzvah associated with Birkat Hachama is simply to recite the bracha, “osseh maaseh bereishit,” and that everything else that people say today are relatively recent add-ons (because saying a nine word blessing for something which you do once every twenty eight years is kind of a letdown). And that blessing is precisely what I said. I did not join the throng of locals here in Maale Adumim assembled in the area near Sde Chemed where the kids play basketball; I did not join the tens of thousands of people assembled at the Kotel or in any number of smaller venues in and around the Old City (all of which took place at about 7AM). I had to finish disposing of my chametz and start cooking for Pesach, neither of which could be put off, regardless of where the sun was or wasn’t. My plan was to prepare as much food for the entire seven days as possible, in order to enjoy the intermediate days with a spirit that I would never been able to muster in former days. And that is exactly what I did and what I will be writing about shortly.