Matter & Spirit – The Blog

25 בMarch 2015

Order of the Day – Tzav

It’s our big day! At the end of Parshat Tzav, the Torah relates of the exhilarating moment when “everything was in order.” The donations were given. The materials were prepared. The vessels had been fashioned. The fabrics were woven and dexterously tailored into priestly garments. The special service of the Mishkan had been taught and internalized by the Priests – which sacrifices were to be offered when, how and by whom? It was finally time for the Kohanim to don their holy garments, sanctify themselves and commence the service. The Kohanim were commanded to observe the Shivat Y’mei Hamiluim—Seven Days of Consecration, or colloquially speaking, pilot run. Following Hashem’s command, during each of these Seven Days of Consecration, Moshe Rabbeinu would build the Mishkan; sanctify Aharon, his sons, the Mishkan and its vessels; offer three sacrifices; dismantle the Mishkan and then repeat the entire process on the following day.

Filling in at home

The word milu’im, which translates into consecration, can also be translated as ‘filling’.  At the end of any construction or renovation process, the paint is fresh, the floors gleam, and no one’s scratched the parquet. A lengthy, wearying period of planning, designing, selecting, constructing, and working cooperatively with suppliers and contractors has finally ended. You’ve changed what needed to be changed and connected all that needs connection… The big moment is finally here, and everything is in order!  You can’t wait to move in, plug the kettle into the wall, and enjoy your first cup of coffee in your new house.


But then, oh no! You turn on the faucet only to discover that it doesn’t work! There’s a blockage in the bathroom sink, and the new air conditioning doesn’t just cool – it freezes! After completing construction or renovation, it’s important to prepare yourself for the fact that, inevitably, there are days of ‘filling in’.


During these days (or weeks…), elements in the home are inspected and repaired to see what works best, what needs to be fixed and/or added in order to complement and complete the perfect ambiance. Deliveries. Endless piles of boxes. Unpacking and getting acclimated to new surroundings is a hurdle unto itself, and it shouldn’t be disregarded, suppressed or viewed as negative. You can’t compare a house drawn on paper or even a computerized 3-D image to a house that you’re living in. Only once you’ve really settled in comfortably can you begin tweaking the temperature …

Simple Shabbat

It’s called Shabbat Hagadol – the Great Shabbat, as it’s the Shabbat immediately prior to the Big Moment – the Seder Night. After weeks of scrubbing and scouring, polishing and shining, painting and buffing (that’s extra!) we have a blessed Shabbat to rest, relax and garner strength for the coming days—the pilot run until Seder night.

Practically, Shabbat Hagadol isn’t really all that great. How are you supposed to cook an entire chametz Shabbat in an almost- Pesachdik kitchen? In our house, we call a spade a spade and refer to it as it is – a Simple Shabbat And Don’t Expect Too Much. I state it perfectly clearly, leaving no room for confusion, disappointment or disillusionment. There will be some soup, a molecule of chicken, pitas and hummus, and please eat with your head out the window! We’ll have some peanut cookies (kitniyot) for dessert, and everything will be served on paper plates and disposable dishes! In the morning, we’ll head out to the park together with the rest of the neighborhood and enjoy a picnic-style Shabbat lunch with our pitas and pastrami.

matter-spirit-Tzav-3left – labna      right –  little upsidedown cake 

In other words, even if you’re not the firstborn in your family, you can start fasting NOW… Pesach will be here in another few days, and then you can enjoy your matzah balls in chunky chicken soup. Besides, it wouldn’t hurt to shed a few pounds after a long winter topped off by Purim… Ah, the pleasures of Pesach…

Half & half

This week of half-chametz half-Pesach is doubtless the most muddled, frenzied week in the year. There are constant shouts of “Hey! Watch out! That spoon is a P-e-s-a-c-h-d-i-k!” The ladder is stationed in the middle of the living room; there are boxes open and boxes closed; bags to toss and bags to put away. A mess wherever you turn, and just a wee bit of tension in the air! (Not too much, thank heavens!) On the other hand, there’s also excitement, anticipation, a heavenly spring breeze, and tons of new items, foods and articles sitting in packaging waiting to be used and enjoyed!


It’s a special time of year, reminiscent of those first exhilarating moment when we enter a new home, just like back in those Seven Days of Consecration when they first entered the Mishkan.

With Pesach just ahead, I’m selling this blog along with the chametz to a gentile … The guy generously offered to write a post in Norwegian, but I couldn’t get it translated, so we’ll be taking a two-week break from the blog until after the holiday!

Wishing you all a Pesach kasher v’sameach! A happy, kosher Pesach filled with redemption and renewal for each and every one of us and all of Am Yisrael!


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