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Batya Medad made aliya from New York to Israel in 1970 and has been living in Shiloh since 1981. Recently she began organizing women's visits to Tel Shiloh for Psalms and prayers. (For more information, please email her.) Batya is a newspaper and magazine columnist, a veteran jblogger and recently stopped EFL teaching. She's also a wife, mother, grandmother, photographer and HolyLand hitchhiker, always seeing things from her own very unique perspective. For more of Batya's writings and photos, check out:
Nissan 12, 5768, 4/17/2008
I consider Kitniyot to be one of the causes the Kera b'Am, Split/Division in the Jewish People. Among Torah-observant Jews, I don't think there is a subject that divides us more extremely than the humble grain of rice or pea. Could there be the hidden message in Hans Christian Anderson's famous story?
Jews of Spain and North Africa are permitted to eat kitniyot on
Today in Israel, it's easy to buy rice and beans with the strictest of Kosher for Passover rabbinic supervision. The Jews who eat those foods aren't sinning. It's not chametz.
Our People are so terribly divided. Too many people use Pesach to separate themselves from others. In some communities, even those who follow the exact same customs, won't eat it in each other's homes. It's as if they're accusing their friends of improper observance of Torah Laws.
I don't see anything admirable in that. It encourages competition, trying to show that one is "stricter" or "better" than others, instead of using this HolyDay to encourage unity and respect for others.
Back to Kitniyot The aim of this post is not to preach the cancellation of the different minhagim, customs, like the Ashkenaz custom of forbidding kitniyot. I just want us to be able to be able to find ways to act as one People.
In communities, like Shiloh, there is a lot of "intermarriage" between different Jewish ethnic groups. Many families, like ours, have grandchildren who are being raised according to totally different customs. There's rice on our Passover table, when the Tunisian branch of the family is over. I don't eat it, but it doesn't traif up (make unkosher) my dishes, nor make them chametz. Baruch Hashem, Thank G-d, things have changed for us.
I pray that the walls between Jews will crumble like freshly baked matzah.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Kasher V'Sameach
Have a Peaceful Shabbat and a Kosher and Happy Passover
Nissan 11, 5768, 4/16/2008
The "clique" I'm referring to is Israel's media, especially, television. It's not only a very closed club, but it has succeeded in controling Israeli minds better than George Orwell could ever have imagined.
The extreme Leftist control of the Israeli Media is more than just politics. I felt it strongly after veteran broadcaster and media celebrity, Shosh Atari, passed away a few weeks ago. The media took it hard. For the broadcasters she was family. The word "we" was bandied about more than "she."
Those who read what I write know that I criticize the chareidim for not being part of the IDF and allowing the non-religious to control it, instead of making it a more Jewish army from day one. And now I'm criticizing the Mafdal dati le'umi, national religious for giving the Leftist and non-observant the gift of television and radio to control our minds and children. Mafdal was part of the government coalitions during the early decades of the State of Israel and could have gotten into the media as part of their agreements.
When Arutz 7 had its radio shows broadcast over ordinary radios all over Israel, people began listening and thinking. That's why the government had it closed down. Where were the protests? Why were the politicians of the Likud and Mafdal so silent? Why did they cooperate? It's their fault that the Israeli media has gone further to the Left.
Today the TV news editors very rarely give the political opposition even a symbolic opportunity to join in discussions and panels. Their opinions aren't asked. There isn't even an attempt to pretend to balance the broadcasts. The clique is closed to those who don't agree. The Internet isn't a true alternative.
This "chametz" has been fermenting for decades. It will be difficult to clean, but we have no choice. We must enter the media in every position possible, from top to bottom. G-d willing, the next government should be more nationalist and understand that no matter how difficult, "impossible" and unpleasant it will certainly be, a total overhaul must be made in Israel's media, starting with the IBA, television and radio.
Nissan 8, 5768, 4/13/2008
Is that the "freedom" they sing about in America? Is it a freedom from rules and work?
No it's not. As a language teacher, I'm going to tell you that the use of the word "freedom" for Passover just confuses people. There are people who claim that they shouldn't have to clean so much and change the kitchen, because it's supposed to be the Freedom Holiday. And there are those who say they should be able to eat bread on Pesach, because they want their freedom.
Passover isn't that kind of "freedom."
I think that "freedom" is the wrong definition for חרותת "Cherut." Maybe "Cherut" is more like independence or self-reliance. Independence and self-reliance aren't easy. They demand responsibility. It's the opposite of slavery. A slave doesn't make his own decisions. A slave is owned by someone else, and we were owned by Pharaoh in Egypt. Being a slave is easy; you can always blame someone else. It's never your fault.
On Passover we must eat matzah, "lechem oni," poorman's bread. Some people may see the irony in it. Wouldn't the poor man's bread be for slaves? Isn't a slave poor, so the opposite of slave should be rich? Shouldn't the "non slave" then eat cake?
There are Jews who make their own matzot.
That's the act of a free man, making one's own food, instead of producing for the owner.
I pray that our nation be truly free and not slaves to the modern Pharaoh.
Nissan 6, 5768, 4/11/2008
According to Chazal, only Yom Kippur may* supplant Shabbat. For years I've been saying that the reason the Shabbat before Passover is called Shabbat HaGadol (The Great Sabbath) is to remind us of this. Shabbat is greater than Passover, certainly greater than Passover cleaning. Even if you love to clean for Pesach, and I admit that I don't, you shouldn't let Passover preparations turn Shabbat into something cheap and trashy.
Creative pre-Pesach cooking can be extra delicious. My daughter reminded me that we can have kitniyot Friday night. Kosher l'Pesach rice can served for Shabbat, postponing "What, potatoes again?" complaints.
Decorate with gorgeous flowers. Make sure the house looks and feels Shabbosdik.
When the Moshiach comes, it will be Shabbat all the time, and we won't have to line our closets!
Shabbat Shalom U'Mevorach, May You Have a Peaceful and Blessed Sabbath
* is permitted to (yes, I'm an English Teacher)
Nissan 2, 5768, 4/7/2008
Around a year ago the Torah-Jewish blog world was buzzing with outraged horror over some ads for Pesach Seder in non-Kosher venues.
Well, I'm not naive, and I'm no FFB either. The vast, vast majority of Jews don't eat Kosher food. And most of those who don't eat Kosher food aren't sinning out of a rebelious contrariness. Most of them are rather ignorant or unaware of what Kosher food really means. That was my situation until during my teens I got involved with NCSY.
For many Jews, the "traditional" seder they know from their childhoods was not kosher. The fish may have been "geffilte," and not shrimp, but the plates were most probably the same ones set out for any festive meal during the year. So if they go to the "Jewish Seder" in some traif restaurant, it's no less kosher than what they would serve at home. Maybe they'll read through the Haggadah a bit to get familiar with the story. And maybe it will set a Jew on the way to a truly Jewish life, G-d willing.
I certainly am not promoting eating traif, but better a traif seder than non at all.