Fast of the Firstborn
Traditionally, the first born of each family fasts on the day before Pesah. On Monday morning there is a fast called Taanit B’khorim. This is a fast for the firstborn of a mother or father. Customary after Shacharit (morning prayers) is to hold a siyyum, a celebration of the completion of a segment of Talmud. The siyyum overrides the fast which then allows all firstborn in attendance to eat. Otherwise, they would fast in commemoration of the survivors and victims of the Deliverance from Egypt.
The Search for Hametz
Hametz comes in many forms. It is any kind of leaven. On the eve of Pesah – this year it will be on Sunday night, April 9, 2017- we light a candle, take a feather and plate. With these items we pass through our house and begin the search. (so that the search is not in vain we strategically place hametz throughout the house). The Blessing: Barukh Ata Adonai Elohaynu Melekh HaOlam Asher Kideshanu B’mitzvotv al biur hametz.
Idea: The Rabbis say that Hametz symbolizes the yetzer ha-ra, the evil or dark side. Getting rid of the hametz then is a spiritual purging of the soul. Question: Into what locked cabinet do I put all my pain from last year?
The next morning, we take the found hametz and burn it as a final act of removal (since no Jew is allowed to have in their possession any leaven during the holiday). As the flames consume our last hametz we say “All hametz in my home that I have not seen and have therefore not removed shall be ownerless, non-existent, as the dust of the earth.”
Lighting the candles
At 7:34 pm, April 10, 2017, we kindle at least two candles and say three brakhot. The first is for the lights, the second for the holy day and the final one, the Sh-hehiyanu, is praising the Lord for the present… we have lived to this day. On the second night candle lighting is at 8:43 pm.
Idea: Cover your eyes during or immediately after the candles have been lit. Construct your own inner blessing for this Pesah.