Tora Thoughts: Pesach Eve 5778
Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky
Why Do We Wish One Another a Kosher and Happy Holiday on Passover?
We are almost ready for Passover! We have been cleaning, kashering, shopping, cooking.… Let the holiday begin! One thing we should definitely know is how to greet another person on this occasion. Let’s see!
Of course, you can always say Happy Passover/Pesach, or the more usual Chag Sameach, meaning “have a happy holiday.” However, you may have heard many people say “(Chag) Pesach Kasher Vesameach,” which means “have a kosher and happy (holiday of) of Pesach.” We don’t add this word “kosher” for the greetings of any other holiday. Why do we do it particularly on Pesach?
The simplest answer, and probably the most suitable, is that this greeting is a wish of success in fulfilling the extra stringencies of kashering everything and not breaking any of the laws of keeping kosher on Pesach, which, as everybody knows, is not easy at all.
Another explanation is related to the very meaning of the word “kasher.” The real meaning is “proper and/or fit”, and is not only related to food, but to many different laws in Jewish tradition. Hence, when we wish others a kosher Passover, we are also wishing that all preparations, which are more extensive than usual for Pesach, are completed.
Our sages have explained that anguish is linked to sin. When a person sins, he is filled with anguish. Conversely, when a person fulfills a mitzvah, he is filled with happiness. As the laws of Passover are so numerous and sometimes also hard to fulfill, we might feel sad or fearful of not having performed all the Passover preparations properly. Thus, we wish everybody to have a kosher and happy holiday, wishing them success in their preparations as well as satisfaction afterwards.
Another smart explanation I read this week is that if you write the expression Pesach Kasher in Hebrew (פסח כשר) and you read it as an acronym, you can form the names of all the ancient Jewish festivals: Purim, Sukkot, Hanukah, Kippur (for Yom Kippur), Shavuot and Shana (for Rosh Hashana). Maybe this is an indication that we should incorporate the values of freedom and happiness that Passover brings into every festival.
Finally, very observant Jews explain that we say “kosher and happy” because there is no happiness on Pesach unless we have everything kosher. However, I would say that it is not enough to have everything kosher in order to enjoy happiness. Indeed, happiness doesn’t come on its own, but rather you should always remember to add happiness to your kashrut. If you are so tired and stressed about the Passover preparations that you cannot enjoy the happiness of the holiday, then you are missing the most important thing. Therefore, have a kosher Passover, but please don’t forget to happily enjoy it!
I wish you all a Chag Pesach Kasher Vesameach, a Passover holiday appropriately prepared, and full of happiness and joy!