Ki Ata Kadosh. . .
But the older I get, the less I can handle the three days (but I still love that matzah shmurah*). . .
It's amazing-when I was a child, I just loved it. It was a glimpse into another universe for me: three days of Avodat Hashem*, with davening* (which I've always loved), singing zmirot* of all kinds, a Seder which transported me into a spiritual realm. I waited for Eliyahu* to come in through our open door with baited breath.
These days, it's all that, but all the while I am collapsed with aching legs and bleary-eyed from lack of sleep. Can't do the physical side of this so easily any more. Started feeling a bit better on Shabbat (today), with 7 or so hours of sleep Friday night, to make up for four hours of sleep after the 2nd seder, and three hours of sleep after the first (our seder went until 3 a.m., and then we sat up close to two hours talking to two guests who were sleeping over, after which I got a muscle spasm in my thigh which kept me up til after 5:30 a.m.; I woke up at around 8:30-9, and decided I'd better stay up and get to shul).
Our seders have always been long and beautiful, so we've been told (Baruch Hashem*), about six hours on average, sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more.
We read the Haggadah* in Hebrew, discuss it in English, and sing, sing, sing! We sing the fifteen simanei ha-seder* in two melodies, one Israeli and one Ashkenazic-traditional, and our minhag* is to sing each step individually, to go back to the beginning, sing the first step to the one we're up to. It makes for a nice smooth transition, and that way everyone at our table more or less knows where we are and what we're about to read, no matter what their knowledge level.
This Pesach is proving to be an auspicious one, beginning with Birkhat HaChamah.* Hubby went to shul early Wednesday morning, and I had already told our house guest that I would probably not be saying the blessing, because of lack of sleep; didn't think I'd get up early enough in the a. m. But I did, and went outside to our little yard which faces east, glanced at the sun (disobeying my momma's orders never to look at the sun), and read the Tehillim* and the bracha by myself. At least that. It was very moving, and I'm glad I didn't miss the opportunity (only G-d knows where I will be 28 years from now. . .)
Because of muscular and other problems with my legs, I didn't walk the mile to the shul we usually go to, but went to the one right behind our townhome. Although it's not Chassidishe, there is much scholarship there, and the davening is good (they can also keep a tune--more than our shul, I'm afraid to say); and I daven my regular nusach no matter where I am (S'fard), so it doesn't really matter. I went all three days to this shul-am already getting a makom kavu'ah*-and it was spiritually fulfilling (everyone is serious there, as in our shul; they daven with kavanah* and don't shmooze during the service).
During the Yamim Tovim of Pesach or any chag I enter into a fourth dimension- I don't know what day it is-Monday is the same as Tuesday is the same as Wednesday. They are pashut*, the Holy Days of Passover, a time onto itself. I didn't have to think about the lousy economy, the fact that as an independent contractor I am losing money every day that I don't work during the holiday, and that our illustrious president Obama bowed down to the King of Saudi Arabia.
I'm sitting here listening to Israeli radio (Reshet Gimel), Yehoram Gaon singing Eretz Nehederet*, wishing I were celebrating the chag there. . .
This world is (with a few exceptions) an evil mess; it's my people and my religion that keep me going. The only thing we can do, is praise Hashem*. In the end, as this video from the movie ha-Ushpizin shows, that's all there is (hat tip, Dov Bear).
Fleishig = Yiddish for 'meat' dishes
Matzah Shmurah = matzah that has been made from wheat that has been 'watched' from the time of harvest, to be certain that it had not come in contact with any moisture, so as not to be leavened
Yom Tov sheni shel galuyot = 2nd holy day celebrated by Jews in the diaspora
Avodat Hashem = service to G-d (i.e., praying, singing praises, etc.)
Davening = Yiddish for "praying."
Zmirot = songs of praise sung on the Sabbath & holidays
Eliyahu = Elijah the Prophet
Baruch Hashem = "Blessed be G-d," used as 'thank G-d.'
Haggadah = the booklet we read at the seder relating the story of the Exodus from Egypt
Simanei ha-Seder = the 15 steps of the seder
Minhag = custom
Birkhat HaChamah = Blessing of the Sun, done once every 28 years.
Tehilllim = Psalms
Makom Kavu'ah = a 'permanent place,' a designated seat that is yours in the synagogue (shul)
Kavanah = intention (praying with focus and fervor)
Pashut = simply
Eretz Nehederet = the name of a popular song: A Beautiful Country.
Hashem = the word used for "G-d." Literally, it means "The Name."