Seder vs Chaos
It’s spring. I’m convinced, even if the weather isn’t. I feel the hope rising in my blood. I fight my last-ditch winter cold with buckets of chicken soup and frozen grapes and refuse to lose faith. My faith will not be shaken, you grey skies!!! I will not lose faith, you brutal wind!!!
Springtime means Pesach. Or meant Pesach, for so many years. The way the air smells now – that April crispness – it still floods my mind instinctively with the aromas of the oven self-cleaning and fresh Pesach brownies cooling on the counter.
Pesach was always the highlight of the year growing up – it felt like the most important holiday, more important than even Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur. Pesach was so powerful, it turned the whole house upside down, sent us shaking out mountains of books, sifting through boxes of clothes at the back of closets, pulling up piles of silverware and plates from the basement. The artifacts of the holiday were magical: One morning, we’d wake up and the dull plastic negel vasser cup resting on the edge of the bathroom sink would be transformed into a pewter beer mug, the Pesach negel vasser. A large glass punch bowl my sister had won at a Chinese auction years ago, a dozen antique silver cups and three pans of baked cow tongue would materialize on the dining room table- which itself had grown six feet. And there in the corner, under the telephone – my favorite piece of the scene – the cardboard box of all the haggadas we had made throughout our school years. I loved to sit and sift through the glittery, pipe-cleanered hagaddas of my earlier childhood, revisiting with my younger self, like reacquainting with an old friend I had almost forgotten.
I still miss Pesach, so many years later. But even if I would be welcomed home this year (I won’t be), I’m too awake to melt into the nostalgia. I couldn’t unsee all the stupidity and hypocrisy and cruelty and irrelevance that I’ve seen. Everyone’s married and off having seders of their own, anyhow. You can never go home again.
But I’m not willing to let go entirely. Pesach is the holiday of freedom. Freedom. This should be OUR holiday, no? We should reappropriate it, wrestle it back, reform the traditions, make it our own.
A few years ago I ran a “seder” for friends, called a “Chaos” – the opposite of “seder” – order – for that’s the true nature of freedom, isn’t it? Chaos? I’d love to revive the tradition next year, if not this. Chesal Seder Pesach.
What do you think?
What should an Unpious “Chaos” look like? How should we ritualize our freedoms? (which of course, begs the larger question – how do we relate to the traditions of our past – do we ignore them entirely? Mirror them on our own? Own and reshape them?)Printable Version