Thursday, March 31, 2011

And Another Thing....

When we still lived in New York, I had a chat with my cantor on this whole issue of kitniyot. His response to me was that he never puts himself in a situation wherein he might have to eat kitniyot.

This is the wrong answer.

At Pesach, we celebrate perhaps the most seminal moment in Jewish history. We, as a nation, left slavery. We did it together. We should never set this particular time aside as a period not to eat with other Jews when those other Jews keep an otherwise normative (and tasty!) kashrut custom.

All I am saying is give peas a chance.

On another note, I was teaching my weekly class this morning. In the weeks prior to Pesach, we go through some different haggadot. The last time I counted (two years ago), Jennifer and I had over 90. Two of them got some extra discussion today.

The first is called the Rylands Haggadah. It is a 14th century illuminated manuscript from Catalonia. The commentary is wonderful. It has in it 80+ piyutim with some connection to Pesach. The most striking to me is the one that talks about being locked in their homes. Apparently, the local authorities in Spain did not allow the Jews out of their homes during Holy Week (the week prior to Easter). Also, in Catalonia, it was the custom to dip the karpas in the haroset instead of in salt water.

The second Haggadah is called "Pessach Haggadah 1729." It is an illuminated Ashkenazi text. Two things struck me. The first was a rather graphic, R-rated picture as part of the illumination. Jesse believes that this is entirely about marketing. The second thing that struck me is a pet peeve. In this context though, it is fascinating. This text is entirely in Hebrew. The Hebrew of the Haggadah is relatively simple Hebrew. Anyway, this Hebrew text is replete with vocalization errors. Every page has multiple mistakes. Rather than react with my usual derision on issues of grammar, I am perplexed and fascinated. The only conclusion I can draw is that the artist copied the text from another Haggadah that lacked all of the vowels. Then, he filled in the vowels on his own. Please note that for anyone who has done even a superficial study of Hebrew grammar, the errors were obvious. Jesse picked it apart with little trouble.

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