Today is erev Pesach, which this year coincides with the festival known as Birchat ha-Chamah (The Blessing of the Sun). This occurs every 28 years.
Pesach is usually a time when families are together. But this year, one daughter is making her own Seder in Tel Aviv:
and the other is doing her thing with others in Goa:
One gem from the weekly Shabbat shiur may be of interest. During the Seder we relate how the Egyptians were hard taskmaskers, who imposed 'hard labour' upon us. The word used for this is perech. When broken up into two words, peh rach, this spells 'a soft mouth'. What does this signify? If you want to impose an impossible regime on people, you do it gently, bit by bit, so that they don't even know it's happening.
Just as at the gas chambers - tell people it's a shower - and they will more easily be led to their deaths.
But, before getting down to emptying the house of the last piece of hametz, I would like to end on a high: this article from last week's Jerusalem Post by Rabbi David Rosen. It's about the Pope and his relations with the Jewish people. The Pope is shown in the picture greeting the Chief Rabbi of Haifa:
And after 11.44 am (empty hametz time) I shall relax, because it's also my Hebrew birthday. Today I'm 58, a fine age, which by gematria spells nach, meaning 'rest', and chen, signifying 'grace'.
What more could one want than a restful and gracious year.