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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

The Morning After

Updated: Mar 29, 2023


Parshat Tzav, the second parsha of Sefer Vayikra, is divided into two parts. The first part presents the different types of sacrifices and how they were to performed and the second part describes how Aaron and his sons were dressed, anointed and prepared for their tasks as priests.


The beginning of the parsha includes detailed instructions for sacrifice, including how to remove the ashes as they accumulated on the Mizbeach after numerous sacrifices. The text carefully describes when the priest needs to empty the ashes, where they should be emptied and even specifies that the priest must remove his priestly garb and wear his everyday clothes when transferring the ashes outside the area of the Mishkan.


On another note, not related to sacrifice, but very much related to the Israelites in the desert, is the holiday of Passover, which we will be celebrate one week from now.

This week's piece is a twist on the ideas expressed in Parshat Tzav. It starts with idea of disposing of the ashes, the priest transferring the sacrificial trash to the outside of the mishkan, but then it. becomes a Passover story where instead of ashes, we will examine the aftermath of the seder and transferring the Seder's trash "outside of the camp."


A stretch, but maybe an interesting one?


Wishing all of you all the best as you prepare for the seders. Whether you are a guest or hosting, with a large group or small, I wish you a meaningful seder.

And perhaps, just perhaps, this year you will look differently at the aftermath of the Seder.

Even at the trash.


Leann

 

The priest shall dress in linen raiment, with linen breeches next to his body; and he shall take up the ashes to which the fire has reduced the burnt offering on the altar and place them beside the altar. He shall then take off his vestments and put on other vestments, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a pure place.

Leviticus 6:3,4 (Taken from Sefaria)


 


The Morning After


On the morning after

there is time to clean up

following the yearly seder

so carefully prepared.


No longer in finery,

sweat pants hang softly over slippered feet.



Emptied wine glasses crisscross the table,

Stains blossomed rosy pink on the white tablecloth.

Armies of matzah crumbs litter the scene.

Balled napkins compete for space with cracked corks and torn scallions.*

The Seder plate appears forlorn;

the lonely egg, dried charoset, the parsley sadly wilted.

Some Haggadot are still open to the final page,

still hoping for next year in Jerusalem;

waiting to be closed and returned to the shelves.


On the morning after,

chairs sit empty, yet still huddled together in small pods.

Just hours ago there were people who sat on these chairs

who look a little older;

but rosy cheeked from all the wine

and all so beloved.

They popped in and out like Elijah the prophet himself.

All that remains now are crooked tables

and wine cups with hints of their lips on the rims.


On the morning after there is time to sit among the crumbs

silently leafing through a haggadah in a still dining room

as morning sun pours in.

On the morning after,

sturdy tables are stacked against the wall

and folding chairs are returned to hibernate in the basement below.

Tablecloths are balled up tight and shaken off the back porch.

A thousand crumbs drop for the birds and squirrels to eat.


A battalion of unmatched pots and pans line up on the counter

waiting to be washed and

squeezed

back into crowded Passover spaces.


On the morning after,

there are mountains of dishes to wash.


Thoughts wander to the night before as soapy water warms hands.

A steamy time to revisit,

savoring a night that passed in a flurry of actions.

Thoughts settle as dishes are stacked to dry.


In a blink, another seder has passed.

On the morning after there is plenty of trash.

Chicken bones, gravy stained napkins,

snippets of horseradish roots,

endless bottles of wine;

covered now in white plastic bags,

pulled tight with red ties.


It's time to bring the bags down to the trash bins.

Slowly exiting the kitchen;

a bag in each hand,

to put what was just last night so central

into the bin.


A Seder in a bag....


As the lid is closed there is a thought.

Perhaps there should be a blessing for the remnants,

for the trash,

for that which helped make the ceremony.


Helped make a people's history.


At least a moment of appreciation,

for that which is no longer commanded,

that which is no longer beautiful,

that which has served,

but no longer necessary.


One last,

unexpected,

chance

to thank.


A lingering glance backwards

and then a sigh.


We have moved on.


We always move on.


Slippered feet pad up the steps to the house.

The leftovers are waiting.


****




* Why scallions? Persians hit each other with scallions during Dayeinu.




וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ צַ֤ו אֶֽת־אַהֲרֹן֙ וְאֶת־בָּנָ֣יו לֵאמֹ֔ר זֹ֥את תּוֹרַ֖ת הָעֹלָ֑ה הִ֣וא הָעֹלָ֡ה עַל֩ מוֹקְדָ֨הֿ עַל־הַמִּזְבֵּ֤חַ כּל־הַלַּ֙יְלָה֙ עַד־הַבֹּ֔קֶר וְאֵ֥שׁ הַמִּזְבֵּ֖חַ תּ֥וּקַד בּֽוֹ׃ וְלָבַ֨שׁ הַכֹּהֵ֜ן מִדּ֣וֹ בַ֗ד וּמִֽכְנְסֵי־בַד֮ יִלְבַּ֣שׁ עַל־בְּשָׂרוֹ֒ וְהֵרִ֣ים אֶת־הַדֶּ֗שֶׁן אֲשֶׁ֨ר תֹּאכַ֥ל הָאֵ֛שׁ אֶת־הָעֹלָ֖ה עַל־הַמִּזְבֵּ֑חַ וְשָׂמ֕וֹ אֵ֖צֶל הַמִּזְבֵּֽחַ׃

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