8th Day Pesah – Incongruities

London Jewish News
Published on London Jewish News – 25 Apr 19

A remarkable thing about Judaism is that whichever synagogue one goes to around the world, one can expect the Torah portion will always be the same. But sometimes an anomaly creeps into our calendar and for a period, the reading in the Diaspora is incongruous with the reading in Israel.

This year is one of those occasions because Israel only celebrates 7 days of Pesah where for us the 8th day of Pesah falls on Shabbat. While this Shabbat we’ll be reading the portion for Yom Tob, in Israel they’ll have moved on to Aharei Mot.

When next week we read Aharei Mot, Israel will be at Kedoshim and so on. Our convergence doesn’t reoccur until 1 August when in Israel they read Masei and, here, we’ll read Matot-Masei. Personally, this divergence leaves me wanting to make greater effort to unite with those living in Israel during the coming months.

Looking just at the 8th day traditions in the Diaspora, both Ashkenazim and Sephardim have special customs for the festival conclusion. The custom among Asheknazim is to host a Seudat Mashiah (Messiah’s Feast) between Minha and the close of the Festival. The more devout will eat Matzah and drink 4 Cups of Wine (or grape juice) – just as at the Seder. Often such a gathering includes a lecture about the Utopian world of the Messiah.

Sephardim have the North African tradition of Mimouna, celebrating the first eating of Hametz after the Festival. The word Mimouna is concurrently associated with the father of Maimonides, with Emunah (Faith) and with Manna, all symbolizing a need to continue to have faith in the Almighty.

The Talmud tells us that ‘in Nisan the Israelites were redeemed and in Nisan they will be redeemed again’. Whichever way one commemorates the end of Pesah, hopefully it will help bring forward our complete redemption.