This will not be a heavy blog. The news, the pundits, the editorials can ponder all they want about the assorted world crises, of which there is obviously no shortage at all. Even here, in our little land, we seem to be newsworthy constantly on a domestic as well as international basis.
Nope. I don’t want to be erudite or opinionated. Not now. Anyway, remember the pundits before the last US election. So much for their brilliant opinions and prognostications. So I’m not a pundit. What I am now, however, is a kitniyot eater during Pesach. Really! Who ever thought that at this late stage of life I’d start eating peas and chumus during Pesach? No way you say. Old habits die slowly.
But, this week, for this chag, in this nation whose passport and identity card I proudly carry, I made the decision. It was a biggie.
Like many of my co-religionists, I tend to be strictly careful about the eating during this week. I’m a ferocious label reader and even with the print on the little jars getting smaller and smaller (could it be my vision is getting worser and worser?) I used to spend inexorable amounts of time figuring out what I could and could not eat. I was one of those who did not eat kitniyot so that excluded enormous amounts of the delicacies in the local markets. Back from the market just now I realize how much deprivation (not serious deprivation; I’m obviously not starving as anyone who sees me can immediately recognize) but how much Ive been leaving off my plate because of that one little category called kitniyot.
It took all this time for me to say let’s be wild and free and eat kitniyot which my rabbi says is ok and all the rabbis in Israel seem to give hechser to. So now during Pesach I can eat rice and beans and peas and a vast number of other foods that I always refused to consumer before now. And a new world is born.
It’s easy to shop in the Israeli markets when you eat kitniyot. Everything that’s kosher for the chag is available and everything that’s chametz is covered. Really well covered. You can’t even see the chametz. It’s forbidden fruit and anyone in this country who doesn’t want to be kasher l’Pesach has to search out Tiv Taam or some of the smaller mini-markets. The mainstream markets, and that’s mostly all of them, just won’t let you buy chametz even if you want to. Forbidden is forbidden.
Now, my country of birth is the United States of America. In my home state of New Jersey, known for some unknown unfathomable reason as The Garden State, most of the markets are not mainly for Jews. These markets, with their very sincere gentile management, put out the matzah for every Jewsh holiday. Like, its Succot, here come the matzahs! In the market I shop in there are lots of Jews in the area so we have a kosher aisle. That’s good. And helpful. Except that the non-Jewish employees who stock the shelves often make mistakes and mix up the Pesach knaidel mix, for example, with the chametz knaidel mix. You really need to be careful. Or? Maybe you’ll use the wrong mix and tref up your whole kitchen that’s really cleaner than a hospital by the time Pesach rolls around. Such disasters are not always newsworthy but certainly can foment a temper tantrum.
Ooh. Did I say rolls? Must be a Freudian slip but I did see packets of frozen Pesachdik rolls in the supermarket I just emerged from. They looked great. I’m sure they didn’t taste great though. And where does maarit eyen enter the story. Is it really ok to eat something that looks like bread during Pesach? I’m not going to tackle that either.
But joining my Israeli brothers and sisters in eating kitniyot makes the holiday much more palatable. Now I can eat almost everything. But, to be perfectly honest, the Pesach cakes are still pretty horrific! So, even with kitniyot there’s still a road to travel.
Heading off to have some peas. Chag sameach.