The Daily Portion
The Mimouna celebration - keeping the door wide open for guests

'Tirvachu ve'tisadu' translates as 'feel at home and eat well' or as 'be prosperous and help others'- it is the open door Mimouna greeting.

Sivan Rahav-Meir ,

נתניהו בחגיגות המימונה
נתניהו בחגיגות המימונה
צילום: ללא קרדיט

Elirach Ohiyon, an educator from Be'er Sheva, wrote the following to me last night regarding the Mimouna, a holiday for Jews of North African, especially Moroccan, descent. The Mimouna marks the end of Pesach and a return to eating hametz. It is also in honor of Rabbi Maimon ben Yosef, father of Maimonides, and is a celebration of 'emunah' - faith, both words similar to the name of the celebration.

"This evening, while celebrating the Mimouna at my grandmother's house, one of the grandchildren closed the front door. My grandmother immediately jumped up and told him: 'Don't close that door' and my mother quickly swung the door wide open again. The thing is, my grandmother seldom speaks. She is severely disabled and it is extremely difficult to get her to say anything -- until they close her front door.

I have just recalled a single, brief moment, yet it says a lot about the Moroccan community, and how we can better understand it through its Mimouna celebration. The amount of food in my grandmother's stuffed refrigerator is completely unreasaonable, to say nothing of the number of refrigerators that she has. For years I never understood this, but I heard one sentence repeated over and over again: 'Maybe someone will come.'

There are certain homes where uninvited guests are a disaster, but I grew up in a totally different reality. I learned that there is no such thing as an inappropriate time when it comes to guests and that a full house is a recipe for happiness.

The more time passes, the less you see this. Doors are closed and people no longer arrive without invitations. But one night a year, we are privileged to see families who are so happy just to have people coming to their homes.

And every time I think about how old my grandmother is, I get scared. Because this world desperately needs people who become alarmed when their front door is closed; it's a special kind of awareness, an entire way of life. If only I will be privileged to carry on this tradition in my own home. In the words of the customary Mimouna greeting: 'Tirvachu ve'tisadu' (Be prosperous so you can help others).

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin



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