Passover is not easy. There are two giant seders to organize and cook for, and then there are 8 days of trying to come up with palatable meals for my family. And let’s face it, there are only so many ways to make a potato!
As I made the kosher for Passover pancake mix this morning it occurred to me that this whole week is a lot of work. And I am not sure if it is really what was intended by the prohibition of eating leavened bread. I mean, is the idea to make us feel like we are eating differently? Is it so that we actually feel, wholly, the sense of separation from our usual routines? That seems to be the spirit of the law – that we should take this time and remember what it was like to leave Egypt, what it means to be free. By breaking from our normal eating routine, we are constantly reminded that this week is different. In this case it would seem kosher for Passover pancakes don’t really work – because to my kids, they are still getting a (somewhat) “normal” breakfast. While they do not taste like regular pancakes, they are still pancakes and therefore not such a break in routine.
But these pancakes are perfectly acceptable according to the hallacha, the letter of the law. They contained nothing leavened. If the purpose is to follow the rules then kosher for Passover pancakes and the like are perfectly acceptable.
Which is more important, the spirit of the law or the letter of the law?
What I quickly realized as I flipped the pancakes is that for me, kosher for Passover pancakes are both. Because although to my kids it is not a huge break in routine, for me, it is. Usually, they throw a few Eggo waffles in the toaster and I am not involved in breakfast. On Passover, I have to make breakfast (as well as every other meal)–which is a complete break from my normal routine. This is certainly fulfilling the spirit of the law. Each and every one of the eight days I am forced to remember that these days are not like all the others in my year. I am physically doing something differently, not just eating something different. One might not think that extra cooking could help you feel the spirit of anything, but in fact for me, it does. So I will continue to make kosher for Passover foods that look like the real thing because believe it or not, the process of shopping, preparing and serving these different meals reminds me every day that it is Passover and perhaps paradoxically, that I am free.
Wishing you all a happy and fulfilling end of Passover!
Pamela Joy Barkley