What an amazing feeling it was, to end the Seder with the words ‘Lshana Habaah birushalayim habnuyah,’ ‘next year in
I’m now going to backtrack a little and talk about what I’ve been up too from Shabbat Hagadol, this past Shabbat up until now. I decided to spend Shabbat on kibbutz, since I would be away all of Pesach. Friday night tefillot were pretty nice; while the Shaliach Tsibbur didn’t sing Carlebach, he had a beautiful voice which made the standard Nusach all the more beautiful. Dinner was held in the chadar ochel, and all of the food, with the exception of Pitot that we were given for motzi. The food itself was pretty satisfying for institutional Pesach fare, but the service wasn’t as great because half the families on the kibbutz decided to take advantage of the food being serverd instead of cooking, and room was actually filled with families from the kibbutz, a far cry from the three kibbutz couples who eat there on a regular Shabbat.
Shabbat morning I davened in the Kibbutz Beit knesset, where we had a beautiful d’var torah (in Hebrew) by the Kibbutz Rabbi, who also chanted the Haftarah in special sefardi trope. I ate lunch with the Slaters, my adopted kibbutz family, who made a nice Hametz meal, and we also had some nice conversation as well. I then took a walk with them after Birkat Hamazon. Our fiest stop was at a neighbour’s plum tree, where we gathered to recite ברכת האילנות, the special b’racha said over the first fruit tree that one sees blossoming during the month of Nissan. We then took a stroll through the Kibbutz garden, with a variety of beautiful trees and flowers. We then made it over to the beit knesset for mincha, after which I read and slept for most of the afternoon. Shabbat ended with a chametz party-seudah shlishit in our Madricha Yael’s room, followed by a quick maariv with the kibbutz and a Nativ Havdalah.
Sunday was a Yom Nativ dedicated to Pesach which began with shacharit, and continued with session such as making chametz dioramas which depicted יציאת מצרים, making up songs that described our various family seder traditions, and a game show put together by my friend Yosef to test our knowledge of the intricate halachot of chametz and matzah. The rest of the day was spent cleaning our caravan for Pesach, rounded out with a deli dinner, Maariv, Bedikat Chametz, and of course packing for the week of Pesach.
Monday morning, being Erev Pesach, was also the fast of the firstborn. While most years the fast is broken by a siyum (celebration making the completion of a tractate of Talmud), this year was unique in that instead was able to eat by being part of a celebration of the bris of the kibbutz rabbi’s new son. Similar to what I’m sure my bris was like, the whole kibbutz was invited to the bris, which took place at the Yeshiva, and after a sefardi shacharit, the brit milah ceremony went by pretty quickly. On interesting note is that at the end of the service, when the rabbi explained the significance of his new son’s name יוחאי אשר, he metioned that his is proud to name his son Asher after his father (who was the sandak at the bris), which is a totally foreign concept to me as an Ashkenazi.
I quickly gathered my bags, and walked out the main highway outside of the kibbutz, where I waited for the #437 Egged bus to
On Yom Tov morning, we again davened at Moreshet Avraham. Tefillot started late at knowing that people had been up late at the Seder, and was very nice as usual. I received third aliyah, Rabbi David Golinkin, one of the most important leaders of the Masorti movement in Israel chanted the maftir (and as a very nice note, the Rabbi of the shul even called him up as מורי ורבי, my rabbi and teacher), and we began praying for dew in musaf. The service ended with a bang as the Shaliach Tsibbur led anim zemirot to the rocking ECRUSY melody. We had a very nice and delicious lunch with a friend of Avram’s mother, and when we returned to the apartment, I took a much needed nap for a while. After davening Maariv and begging to count the omer, as well as making Havdalah, I walked over to Emek Refaim and had dinner at
Wednesday morning started off with me waking up pretty early (around ) and went over to Yedidya for a festive Chol hamoed shacharit. I led p’sukei d’zimra, and compared to the kibbutz we took our time and had a much more festive Hallel. I packed up, said goodbye to Avram’s family, and took a bus over to Rehavia, where I met my former teacher, Rabbi Barry Rosen, at his pesach apartment, where I stayed the past two nights. After schmoozing for a bit, he went out for the morning, and in response to an ad I had seen in a newspaper that morning, I headed downtown to the plaza in front of the Hamashbir department store to donate blood to Magen David Adom. After waiting for a few minutes, I filled out the form in Hebrew without a translation, and then went into the bloodmobile to give the donation. It was such a great feeling to take just a little bit of my time and make a difference. I then strolled over to the
Thursday morning I also woke up early and left the apartment at to walk down to the old city, so I could get a prime spot at the Kotel for the annual Birkat Kohanim (Priestly Blessing), where hundreds of Kohanim come to blesses the thousands who fill the kotel plaza to be blessed. The Shacharit service began at , and used a microphone so everyone could hear the leader. The tefillot, including Hallel, torah reading and musaf went until 11, and ended with the recitation of a special prayer for the return of captive soldiers. Even though it was a very long service, it was a fascinating and worthwhile experience.
In the afternoon I spent some time studying from the אנציקלופדיה תלמודית (Talmudic Encyclopedia) with Rabbi Rosen. For dinner I went down to Ben Yehuda and ate a Burger King, where I had a whopper, fries and a drink, on a special Pesach bun.
מועדים לשמחה Moadim lsimcha!