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March 29, 1991 - Image 62

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-03-29

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Passover Facts & Fables

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At Passover, it's a virtue to talk about the
historic events of the holiday.


Special to The Jewish News


he obligation of Jewish
parents at Passover is
clear. "And you shall
tell thy son on that day, say-
ing, 'It is because of that
which the Lord did for me
when I came forth out of
Egypt.' " In other words, we
are duty-bound to tell the Ex-
odus story to our children
and, if you have no children,
you still have to tell the story
to your seder guests. This
year, Passover begins at sun-
down on Friday, March 29.
Ideally, children should not
only hear the Exodus story
but also participate with en-
thusiasm. This isn't easy
since (for most youngsters)
the seder has, at best, maybe
three high points. The Four
Questions, the Afikomen
hunt, and the moment when
we sing "Chad- Gadya."
Between these three peak
experiences, most kids fidget,
yawn and/or cry. Keeping
adults from nodding off is no
cinch, either. So what should
we do if we start losing our
audience at the seder? We
should, in a word, speak!
On Passover it's a virtue to
talk at length about the
historic events we're com-
memorating. Here is some un-
common Passover commen-
tary. Speak about any or all
as needed.
• Tradition says the Jews
left Egypt 2248 years after
The Creation on Thursday,
the 5th of Nisan.
• Much of the Haggadah,
including "Chad Gadya" and
"HaLachma Anya" (the main
reading of the Haggadah
which declares, "Let all who
are hungry, come and eat...")
is written in Aramaic. Why?
According to tradition,
demons understand Hebrew,
so this open invitation to the
Passover meal was written in
Aramaic to prevent them
from joining our seders.
• The preferred way to
dispose of chametz is by burn-
ing. But it may also be crush-
ed and thrown into the sea,
scattered to the winds, or
simply renounced as being
void as the dust of the earth.

• The song, "Dayenu,"
enumerates 15 "wonder" acts
of God and gave the sages ex-
ercises in gematria. Fifteen,
they explained, is the numer-
ical value of the Hebrew "Y"

Ozzie Nogg is a writer in
Omaha, Neb.

and "H" which spell one of
God's names.
• Another Passover favorite,
"Echod Mi Yodeya" (Who
Knows One?), describes God's
13 Attributes. Some say this
song was originally a learn-
ing tool, with one verse being
memorized each year until
boys reached bar mitzvah age.
• If a bachelor comes into
your house while the door is
open for Elijah, the guy will
marry one of your daughters.
• Save a little piece of
Afikomen. It will ensure easy
childbirth, protect against
fires and (if kept for seven
years) prevent floods. Or toss
a piece of Afikomen into the
sea and you'll have a calm
cruise since it is written, "For
He hath delivered me out of
trouble" and the first letters
of those words (in Hebrew)
spell matzah.
• Hagaddah art often shows
the Four Sons in "profes-
sions" considered suitable (or
unsuitable) for nice Jewish
boys. The wise son usually
has a beard and a book. The
wicked son is drawn as a
soldier, a boxer or a clean-
shaven businessman with a
cigarette. And the son who
does not know how to ask is
seen admiring himself in a
• The Israelites were to be
enslaved in Egypt for 400
years but were redeemed
after 210 years. Why was
their bondage shortened?
Because the righteous women
of Israel desperately missed
their husbands and beseech-
ed God to release them. God
answered, "The bondage still
has almost 200 years to go,"
but the women begged, "Give
our men back to us now, and
we promise they will remain

• Why do we drink four
glasses of wine at the Seder?
Because the Jews, while in
Egypt, did four virtuous acts.
They kept their Hebrew
names, kept the Hebrew
language, stayed moral, and
told only the truth.
• In 42 CE, a census of the
Jews was taken by counting
the kidneys removed from the
pascal sacrifices. An equally
scientific census of the New
York Jewish population was
taken in 1859. That year, ap-
proximately 274,000 pounds
of matzah was eaten in New
York City; figuring five
pounds per person, it was
estimated that 54,800 Jews
lived there.
• Why are apples the main
ingredient of charoset? Be-



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