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Passover and Its Many Esoteric Rituals

We are all familiar with most of the things associated with the Passover holiday. There is matzah, and maror. There is charoset and the shankbone. Let’s not forget the Haggadah and the four questions. Do not miss out the four cups of wine and Elijah’s cup too.

But there are many customs and rituals related to the Passover holiday that are a bit more obscure and underutilized. One example is the Siyyum Bechorot, the fast of the first born. We have a tradition that on the day before the seder, first born male children (you have to be both first born and male, if you have an older sister you are not a first born male) are required to fast as a way of commemorating the trepidation and fear that led up to that first Passover night and the tenth plague.

The seder meal often starts pretty late on the first night of Passover and having to fast all day, especially while also making all the preparations for the Seder meal can be very daunting. Many take advantage of a great loophole the rabbis created to allow someone to eat even when they are under an obligation to fast. When someone or a group of people finish studying a mesechet/tractate of Talmud there is a custom to hold a festive celebration. Anyone who joins in on the completion of the study of that text, regardless of whether they studied the whole text or just the last piece, is able to join in on that festive meal celebration. In this way, a first-born can have some breakfast on the eve of Passover.

I have taken on the responsibility to study a tractate of the Talmud and will finish the study by Friday morning. After minyan here at MKT I will teach some of the last part of the text and we will celebrate with the last chametz of the year.

You don’t need to be a first-born to join us, everyone is welcome. Minyan is at 7 AM followed by the brief study and then breakfast.

The first night Seder, on Friday, March 30, is once again sold out! Put it on the calendar for next year! But stop by on April 4 to share a casual kosher for Passover midweek dinner. Leave the menu planning, shopping, cooking and cleanup to Aaron Klafter Phillips at Chef KP Creations. Advanced reservations required; just click here!

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