Friday, March 20, 2009

Passover: Isn't That the One Where We're Freed from Slavery? פסח שמח

We’re approaching that time of year when we start to hear that greeting that always trips me up: chag sameach vKasher, invariably admonished gaily (picture finger-wagging with a preschool-teacher smile). chag sameach vKasher is unsettling to me for a few reasons: First, the kasher part sounds like a dangling appendage. At Purim, do we say chag sameach vShikor? At Chanuka, do we say chag sameach vMadlik?

Second, chag sameach vKasher has a distinct paternalistic ring. What? You think I’ll slip up and eat chametz if I’m not reminded of the primary directive of Passover every time I meet someone?

Third, it creates an unneccesary divide between those who are Torah-observant and those who are not. As one friend said, “It’s as if we went around greeting each other shalom uBitachon”. Do we really need to be reminded even more constantly of the divisions among us? Would it actually detract from the momentousness of Passover to simply wish each other chag sameach?

For the record, as far as I’m concerned your Passover can be kasher, chametzdik, or anything in between, as long as it’s an enjoyable festival wherein we join together to recite once again the story of the most dramatic hour of our history. This to me is the essence of Passover, not the collective elimination of every last molecule of leavening from the planet.


  1. Thanks for the chuckle. I actually never heard of that expression until I got to Israel and it always seemed weird to me too as if everyone all of a sudden started admonishing everyone else. What is your take on "Tzom Kal" for Yom Kippur?

  2. Now you will get comments from people who say that "kasher" really means something else.

  3. Rachel, I also find *tzom kal* rather schizoid. Last time I checked, while we aren't supposed to end up in ER, fasting isn't supposed to be easy.