I wrote the following last week for submission to a comment piece in a Jewish Newspaper, but then the Israeli elections happened and other things needed commenting on (will be published this Friday, although of course has been said many times over now).
I was just reading an online article about Passover cereal, and how to make your own, by simply buying matzah farfel (apparently the author’s home town of Dallas always has a run on said farfel), and some other wholesome ingredients like almonds, and honey, to make a Pesadich granola. I have to confess I had to look up what matzah farfel is. In case you are as ignorant as I, it turns out it’s broken up pieces of matzah.
I am now trying to figure out why on earth a town would have a run on purchasing broken pieces of matzah. If you don’t find enough in your boxes of matzah, surely someone capable of making Pesach Granola could break up some matzah?
So begins our annual Pesach madness. With jars of salt water for sale, not to mention the various attempts to imitate our year round pleasures such as pasta, and the sugar coated imitation cereal which always looks promising…
This Pesach falls in a Shmita year – a Sabbatical for the Land of Israel, intended to balance the 6 previous years of free market consumption and growth. Perhaps this should be seen as an opportunity for the modern world too. For one week of this year, we could embrace the simple lifestyle at the heart of Shmita, by trying to enjoy a simple, healthy diet; vegetables, fish, meat, potatoes, soup, home broken matzah!
In the time of the Biblical Shmita, I imagine that communities would have had to have worked closely together to survive the restrictions of a year with no harvest and no planting, and that which was produced was not owned by anyone in particular. I’m not suggesting we all assume anything on the shelves of a kosher store is ours, every-ones, and no-ones, but that perhaps our lives, and our experience of Pesach, might be a little easier, healthier, and meaningful, if we allowed the balancing nature of Shmita to guide our Pesach diets, rather than a panic about all that is suddenly unavailable, and a reliance on over processed, over shipped pre-made goods. And if we can share these simple meals with our neighbours and community, so much the better.