The man going into the 7-11 convenience store must have seen my Kippah-mask as I was walking out. It was the day before Passover. His expression clearly showed that he understood.
I said, “Have a good Passover.”
Immediately I felt that that was a bit weak.
There are many ways people wish each other well for the holiday. “Have a happy Passover” and it’s southern variant, “Y’all have a happy Passover” is one. “Chag Sameach” is another, with a more religious insert in light of all the cleaning and food-label reading, “Chag Kasher VeSameach.” And in our present situation, many are wishing a “good, healthy, safe Passover.”
When I was a child, we spent many Rosh HaShanas at Kosher hotels, oldtime never-fancy-but always adequate places with my father’s European parents and one or two of Abba’s sisters, my aunts. Most of the guests were of Grandpa Bill’s (“Velvel’s”) and Grandma Tzirel’s generation. I was raised on “Good Yontiff” or “A guten Yontiff”. All the other ways of saying it came along.
But one of them slipped my mind. For decades I hadn’t heard it or used it until the man outside the 7-11 said “A ziessen Pesach”.
In the few minutes driving back home, my mind went all over. “Imagine that! With the numbers of infected people and people dying, with every day new populations announced (the police, the members of the fire department, the EMT’s), the job losses (30,000 at Boeing) and still, “A ziessen Pesach – You should have a sweet Passover.”
What a powerful way to enter into the holiday!
It is a defiant and hopeful message in the face of a reality new to all of us that seems to chip away – really tears away — at our way of life. I believe it is a most worthy phrase to keep in mind as we recite the story of ostensibly hopeless, endless slavery.
But we know better how the story ends in the Haggadah.
And that, hopefully, will make for a ziessen Pesach