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The prize for finding the afikoman in my house was 5 dollars.
To put this in context, the starting pay for chores at the age of five was a nickel and this rate was raised five cents every birthday.
This means that finding the wrapped up piece of shmura matzo was equivalent to anywhere from 6 months to just under 2 years salary.
Needless to say, this was a coveted reward.
My brother won this purse every year for the first seven years of his life. Unimpeded by siblings, finding the afikoman was merely a formality to the end of the seder. This was until I turned 2, and could walk. Granted, there was a five year age difference between us, but my parents allowed me a handicap. As a toddler, not only was I given a head start, but the adults gently 'guided me' in the direction of the 'hidden napkin' glaringly dangling out of the couch cushion right in front of my face. Some years my brother didn't even get to look. As I got older, and my motor skills more advanced, the competition became fierce. My father took great joy in the hiding. My mother who didn't want the house destroyed came up with two simple rules:1)It could not be in the entertainment center, the dining room, the kitchen, any of the bedrooms, the bathrooms, the garage, or any cabinets and 2)We were not to make a mess, everything had to be cleaned up. What this amounted to was my brother and I gingerly walking around the living room, gently sorting through magazines and under tables. My brother, being the smarter of the two of us, took a detective-like approach to this endeavor. Before looking, he would rule out the places that it couldn't be based on where it had been hidden in years past. Then he would systematically go about the living room removing objects one by one. I however had a much more opportunistic strategy. I would pretend to look for the afikoman very close by him. Right when he found it, I would lunge and seize it, flailing it about in the air, exclaiming victory. With no referee (my parents were in the other room talking to their friends) it was his word against mine and as the younger of two I always got my way.
By the time my sister came into the picture the finding of the afikoman had been split into two age categories. Uninterested in winning Beanie Babies, I opted out of the 'ten and under' search. He may have won it now and a gain, I might have even let him have a few, but for the most part when it came to Passover I was ten dollars richer. The money was of course inevitably squandered on the two vices we were denied: junk food and video games.
O ur hands are the primary tools to interact with our environment. They generally obey our emotions: Love, fear, compassion, the urge to win, to be appreciated, to express ourselves, to dominate. Our emotions, in turn, reflect our mental state.
But, too often, each faculty of our psyche sits in its cell, exiled from one another. The mind sees one way, the heart feels another and our...
Kafka once wrote in his journal: "You can hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world. That is something you are free to do and it accords with your nature. But perhaps this very holding back is the one suffering you could avoid."
The "you" that Kafka is addressing might be himself, or it might be each of us. But it also could be -- and here's the stunner -- the God of Exodus Himself. It accords with His...
"A Not-So-Serious Passover Play for the Classroom or the Dining Room" by S. Mitchell
CHARACTERS: Slave Narrator, G_d (as a voice offstage), Moses, Aaron, Burning Bush, Pharoah
SLAVE NARRATOR: In Egypt we Hebrews had a difficult life. All day we worked under the whips of the taskmasters, making bricks and stacking them into giant pyramids, using nothing but our bare hands and a mixture of apples, raisins...
The Paschal Lamb reminds us that the Holy One, praised be God, passed over the houses of our ancestors in Egypt.
The Matzah is to remind us that before the dough our ancestors prepared for bread had time to rise, God revealed the might, power and presence of God unto them and redeemed them.
The Bitter Herbs are to remind us that the Egyptians embittered the lives of our ancestors in...
A Meditation on the Four Children
by Rabbi Brant Rosen
As Jews, how do we respond when we hear the tragic news regularly coming out of Israel/Palestine? How do we respond to reports of checkpoints and walls, of home demolitions and evictions, of blockades and military incursions?
It might well be said that there are four very different children deep inside each of us, each reacting in his or her own...
SALT WATER - Why do we dip our food in salt water two times on this night?
The first time, the salty taste reminds us of the tears we cried when we were slaves.
[Greens held up for all to see.]
KARPAS - Parsley and celery are symbols of all kinds of spring greenery.
The second time, the salt water and the green can help us to remember
the ocean and green plants...
You can look at the four sons as four generations of Jews in America today. The first generation of eastern European Jewry who emigrated to America at the turn of the century are represented by THE WISE SON. This is the Jew who grew up with a strong connection to the Jewish way of life. His commitment to Judaism is unshakable.
His son, the second generation, is represented in the Wicked Son. This is the rebel who...
WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT THIS AS A JEW?
The Jewish people has been a refugee people since biblical times. In the United States, we know the devastating consequences of turning away refugees. Less than a century ago, refugees fleeing the Holocaust were marked as security threats to the U.S., denied entry, and sent back to Europe to be brutally murdered. Furthermore, the value of welcoming, protecting, and loving the...
The 1951 Refugee Convention clearly states that host countries must permit asylum seekers and refugees to engage in both wage-earning and self-employment. According to asylum experts, “the right [to work] has been recognized to be so essential to the realization of other rights that without the right to work, all other rights are meaningless.” Even with these legal protections, though, outside of the United States,...
Passover combines the celebration of an event from Jewish memory with a recognition of the cycles of nature. As we remember the liberation from Egypt, we also recognize the stirrings of spring and rebirth happening in the world around us. The symbols on our table bring together elements of both kinds of celebration.
We now take a vegetable, in this case parsely, to represent our joy at the dawning of spring after...
At Passover, we are confronted with the stories of our ancestors’ pursuit of liberation from oppression. Facing this mirror of history, how do we answer their challenge? How do we answer our children when they ask us how to pursue justice in our time?
What does the Activist Child ask?
“The Torah tells me, ‘Justice, justice shall you pursue,’ but how can I pursue justice?”