Monday, May 19th, 2008
Today (May 19) is Pesach Sheni, the best holiday nobody ever heard of, the day when there are no sins, only second chances (read the Jewish Week story here)
Was there ever a greater Pesach Sheni than in 1945? Like so many others, my Uncle Zisha was a Nazi slave on Pesach, 1945. He was liberated April 11. Two weeks later, on Pesach Sheni, Zisha had his seder.
This Pesach, Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion (April 19), on the night of the seder, featured a beautiful version of Adir Hu, gentle as a hymn, and a rollicking Daynenu (is there any other kind? Was there ever any other niggun?) by “The Guy’s All-Star Shoe Band.”
If you missed it, on Pesach Sheni (or any time) you can hear it by clicking here (and scrolling to the show’s third segment).
We Jews are a lesser people than we were in 1973. That year we were profoundly offended by the cold infamy of Egypt’s attack on Yom Kippur, an attack against holiness itself. In 2008, I didn’t hear one person – not one – speak of the infamy of Hamas rockets being fired into Israel on seder night. As we slink away, deeper into exile, who even notices anymore?
The seder-night rockets and silence (beyond Sderot) surely were inscribed in the Book of Chronicles that will be read aloud in Heaven during the Days of Awe when the world is judged.
Miki Goldwasser, mother of captive Ehud Goldwasser, wrote a letter to her son that was published in an Israeli newspaper (and reprinted, surely, in the Book of Chronicles) before the seder. If you didn’t see it on Pesach, let it be in our Haggadah for Pesach Sheni:
“Udi, my child,
“A second Pesach is here. Do you even know that the seder will be held Saturday night? Can you smell the spring? The scents of flowers blossoming, which you love so much? Can you hear the singing of the birds that you photographed so often?
“My son, my heart bleeds for you. My arms turn to stone when they cannot embrace you. I know that you know. After all, I can feel you flowing through my body.
“Udi, I would like to tell you how in this country, which you went out to protect with the love and dedication that is so typical to you, thousands of people are joining the call to free you and free Eldad and Gilad.
“You know, at the beginning of the struggle I thought that only we, the families, would have to fight against an indifferent government…. Yet slowly we are discovering that thousands upon thousands are joining the fight…. Udi, an entire nation, including its Diaspora, are sending their feelings to you, Eldad, and Gilad. They are sending their hope to see you soon, at home.
“We shall place an additional glass of wine next to the glass of Eliyahu HaNavi, and may you, our abducted sons, enter through the open door.
[signed] “Mom, dad, your Karnit, and your brothers, who all miss you.”
Tonight, and soon, may Ehud, Eldad and Gilad have their seder as Zisha once did — the Four Sons of Pesach Sheni.