The Passion of the Passover
Why Easter doesn't overshadow Passover.
Consumerism, without a doubt, makes a holiday more popular and meaningful on the yearly calendar. But holiday capitalism also presents itself through the rules of competition. Christmas is what made Hanukkah, well, more competitive, and it's what made Hanukkah's adherents more creative and innovative, like the now-widespread American custom of giving Jewish kids eight presents, one for each day of Hanukkah.
But that's not the way things work for Passover. This holiday, apparently, was strong enough to stand on its own feet. Maybe it's because it had a tradition that pays special attention to the Torah command "you shall tell your child" (Exodus 13:8), which turns every parent into the storyteller of Jewish history and helps Passover cruise through eras and generations.
One can look at this Passover tradition and make a case with which to prove the superiority of content over consumerism. Or, tongue in cheek, one can read the Haggadah—the Jewish textbook that's read by the table on the evening of the Seder—and contemplate the even more specific instructions it gives: "The more one expands and embellishes the story, the more commendable it is." And what's more in line with current-day holiday consumerism than this "the more, the better"?
Shmuel Rosner is a Tel Aviv-based columnist. He blogs daily at Rosner's Domain.
Illustration by Mark Alan Stamaty.