Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The genesis of the exodus from Exodus

Marvin Schick on Cross-Currents:

There are good reasons why so many religious Jews – and the number is growing – go to hotels for Pesach. Some have too few people around the table to make a seder, while others have too many. There are the elderly and frail who cannot cope and there are the families with working mothers who do not have the energy or time to prepare properly for Yom Tov. For many, this is the only or primary vacation. Affluence is obviously a factor, if only because it is costly to go to a hotel and there are religious Jews who can afford the cost. Affluence also has meant larger homes and this means more space to clean and supervise and this factor also contributes to the exodus.
All true, but Dr. Schick misses out on the main point: that in recent years, it has become harder than ever before to prepare for Pessach. The kind of cleaning people are expected (and expect themselves) to do today is much more thorough, time-consuming and exhausting than ever before (and probably uncovers little more chametz). The shopping list people are expected to get through -- including replacing half your non-edible household materials with a pessachdik equivalent -- is longer and more expensive than ever before. As a result, the 'switchover' takes much more planning and energy. The ever-lengthening list of chumras, in short (not that there's anything short about it) is making it increasingly harder to arrive at the festival feeling anything other than completely and utterly harrassed and exhausted.
I agree with Dr. Schick's main point, which is that it is a shame so many families today never / rarely get to experience Pesach preparations or Seder at home. The fact is, however, that a lot more people would be staying home if 'preparing properly' for the Chag, as Dr. Schick puts it, meant the same thing today as it did 30 years ago.
And on that note, I've got to go pack for my flight to the States tomorrow....

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