By Yakov Spil
From my earliest memories, Pesach was special. I remember my mother a’h making her own chicken soup (which she did a few times a year) and watching her make chopped liver. I watched. I couldn’t eat that, then at least. My taste buds matured and have come to enjoy it and all the memories associated with it.
When I was in Yeshiva, I had a rebbe who I spent many sedorim with. His minhag was to eat only what was made at home. In Yiddish, this is called not to “mish”. Later on, I had friends who only squeezed their own juices and sauces for the duration of the chag. I must admit how enchanted I was this purist approach to Pesach. As much as it is an expression of one’s zehirus in kashrus for Pesach, I feel that this minhag is a confession of “I don’t want to possibly subject anyone else to my own kashering shortfalls, should there be any.”
But not having grown up with this minhag and only observed it, albeit for quite a few years, I confess my inadequacy in having adopted it the past few years and worry about winging it.
Of course, right away the question should be asked, “is your wife on board?” To that I say, yes, but. The but is, she didn’t grow up this way either so even though it’s unfamiliar to her, we are navigating it together. That makes me proud.
When we were discussing this change, because when we were first married we ate by our friends since it was unfeasiable to make our own, I told her how I was moved by a particular argument against the eating out or hotel scene. All fine and good to make Pesach a little easier, but we all know what happens to the next generation! We saw what happened to our grandparents or parents as they were the next generation, and what was lost. What would or could be watered down by not making our own Pesach from beginning to end? We decided that we wanted our son to see us work hard to “make Pesach.”
Of course, everybody works hard to make Pesach, either through the hard earned money saved up to go away or to make Pesach at home, a considerable expense as well. But what would our imprint be on our son when he sees us making as much as we can from scratch? We hoped it would be excitement and a willingness to contribute to the family effort. We were right, boruch Hashem. He is quite into it and we hope we added that extra hislahvus, fervor for mitzvos for Pesach and in general. We think it carries over.
The reason I wrote was to elicit your thoughts about the strength of a mesora that we ourselves don’t have, and trying to keep to it, when it’s just as easy to say, “hey, we’re making this up, so we can fudge it here and there.” But we all know that’s not mesora nor would it carry the weight of responsibility to a mesora had we both adopted a traditional mesora from previous generations and the ability to hand it over with as much detail as possible to the succeeding generations we raise.
Now, please your thoughts. No one need feel cast aside in any way that you personally make Pesach. To those who don’t “mish”, make Pesach from scratch, how do you do it and what do you avoid? Or do you go all the way? To those who do mish, how does the idea of mesora impact your Pesach as you keep it and absorbed from your families?