A Multi-Sensory Pesach

Friday, 28 March, 2014 - 12:43 pm

While many people view their Jewish involvement as being “for their kids” all year long, Passover is a time when the Torah actually instructs us that the children be the focus of the celebration. “Ki yishalcha bincha, v’higadeta l’bincha” - “When your child will ask, you shall tell him.” The Haggadah is framed as the answer a father gives to his child regarding the story and the lessons of the Exodus. So much so that there are things we do at the Seder just to pique the curiosity of the children.

The Pesach Seder is a model of successful pedagogical practice. The Seder has been implementing the “multiple intelligences” approach long before the theory was proposed. We sing. We question. We talk. We use visuals. We interact. We introspect. We eat. We drink. We touch. We hide. We seek. We move fluidly from the past to the present to the future all in one discussion. It is participatory and everyone is encouraged to be involved. Passover is very much a hands-on holiday.

A story is told about Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev that highlights the multi-sensory aspect of the Seder. There is a point in the Haggadah where we are instructed point to or lift the Matzah and proclaim “this Matzah that we eat…” and then we go on to relate the history of the Matzah. When Rabbi Levi Yitzchak lifted the Matzah and proclaimed “this Matzah” he entered into a state of spiritual ecstasy. His excited flailing caused the table to tip and the wine spilled all over the tablecloth and his white Seder robe. When they brought him a fresh robe to wear, he was still “under the influence” of his previous experience. As he sat back down at the table he took a deep breath saying “ahhhhhhhh, this Matzah” as if the smell and taste of the Maztah was the most pleasurable thing he had ever encountered.

While we may not be at that level, we can still make the Seder a very powerful and moving experience for ourselves, our children and all those the celebrate with us.

This is one of the motivations behind the Model Matzah Bakery. A child (or adult) who bakes his or her own Matzah and goes through the steps of the process will view the Matzah and the Seder in a new light. The holiday comes alive for them and is much more meaningful. We have a number of schools bringing groups and there are two open sessions on Sunday, April 6. The first is open to the public at 12:30 PM. The second is for Young Jewish Professionals at 2 PM. We thank the JCC (Uptown) for hosting us each year. Our appreciation is extended to Alan Franco and the Goldring and Woldenberg Foundations for underwriting our Living Legacy Series of which the Model Matzah Bakery is a part.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom and happy Pesach prep!
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin


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