Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Starting Early

Part of the "hashkafa" in the group of Jewish families we hang out with is that technical halacha (like actual sunset times) must defer to the larger purpose of an event that is aimed at kiddos (who have an inflexible need for sleep). Baby Chalal, for instance, normally gets bath by 6:30 and is in bed for stories by 7pm. If we keep him up much later than that (say, 7:45), we often have a screaming sobbing toddler too tired to calm down and sleep.

So I find myself planning for a "first night" seder that will actually be mostly over by sunset, which doesn't happen here until 8:02pm. I'm totally ambivalent about this.

On the one hand, I love hosting the seder, making it special for the kids, getting them all really involved, etc.

On the other hand, how is this different from all the non-observance of Bad Cohen's family? Haven't we just drawn the line in a slightly different place?

The year I was pregnant for Pesach, I remember being really offended that friends with a 6-month-old wanted us to start before sundown and were going to leave immediately after eating - this is a once-a-year holiday, after all, a special occasion! After all the trouble I went through to clean and kasher and cook etc., couldn't they at least show some respect for the holiday?

Then I had baby Chalal. And didn't sleep more than 4 hours in a row for 16 months.

Now that he's sleeping through, bedtime is special. Bedtime is sacred. Anybody tries to mess with bedtime, they're going to have to deal with ME, by G-d. There is no way we're risking messing up the sleep pattern.

The obvious answer would be to host it on the second night instead, where the timing is less problematic, but that leaves Bad Cohen and me (and all our guests) with no first-night seder at all.

Clearly, BC and I will just have to stay up late drinking wine and reading Shir Hashirim to make up for it... :)


Blogger Gila said...

Walla--have some of those coconut covered marshmellows with the wine for me. :)

4/16/2008 11:19 PM  
Anonymous beachhutman said...

Well, I got here from a link when I was looking for the sadly discontinued Saudi Blogger Muttawa, and feel that if I get to a site like this from a search like that, something must be OK in the world. Are you going to tell the politicians, or can I? (PS, not that I'm doing it here in Beijing. NOt right now anyway!)

4/18/2008 8:44 AM  
Anonymous Woodrow said...

All of this is based on the assumption that the purpose of the Seder is to entertain 2 year olds. I completely disagree, for a couple of reasons.

It seems to me that when Chazal scheduled the seder at nightfall, they weren't just interpreting the Torah. Rather, they were sending us a message: the Seder, and indeed Judaism generally, is primarily for grownups and older children who can appreciate Pesach. The 5 year olds can learn about it when they are older.

Second, a Seder dumbed down to the tastes of 5 year olds (with lots of silly jokes, etc.) isn't much fun for adults. Indeed, such pediatric Judaism turns off adults.

Third, often the dumbed-down Seder doesn't even meet its goal of accommodating 5 year olds. Why not? Because to dumb down the Seder, the grownups often add so much tomfoolery that the seder lasts until long after the kiddos are asleep. By contrast, when people start a seder at 9 PM, they tend to heed the time and to not add a lot of extraneous rubbish, thus ensuring that the seder is over within a few years.

This year (and the first night last year), I went to the kind of kid-oriented seder that you wanted to hold (though I guess you couldn't because you got sick, for which I am sorry). It didn't end till midnight, which I thought kind of defeated the point. I thought it would never end.

4/24/2008 9:30 AM  

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