Grandpareting this Pesah

by: Rabbi Yosef Bitton


Not a single person on this planet knows what will be happening in the coming days or weeks. But most probably we will be forced to celebrate Pesah in extraordinary circumstances.  Mainly because for many families, this will be a Seder without the grandparents, and for many grandparents, a Seder without the joy of their grandchildren. 


It’s ironic because Pesah is always related to “family.” In the times of the Bet haMikdash Pesah was not celebrated only in families but in Haburot. “Haburot” were groups of 50 to 100 people that included (1) the nuclear family: father, mother, children, (2) the extended family: grandparents, uncles, cousins, (3) guests and (4) neighbors, who would join together to participate in the same Korban (pesah sacrifice). 

Additionally, at this time of year, the houses in Yerushalayim were open to all those who needed a place to stay. Why? Because the Korban Pesah was sacrificed in the Bet haMikdash. Therefore, thousands of Jews living outside Yerushalayim would come to the Holy City for Pesah, and needed a place to stay. With no hotels around, most households would host many people – strangers, entire families- coming from other areas. Jewish homes were open for all to come, and when there was no more room available at a house -the exception, not the rule- it was announced by hanging a red cloth on top of the door. We remind ourselves of this great act of collective hospitality when we declare at the beginning of the Haggadah an open invitation for everyone to join and celebrate with us: כָּל דִכְפִין – יֵיתֵי וְיֵיכֹל, כָּל דִצְרִיךְ – יֵיתֵי וְיִפְסַח everyone who wants to participate in our Pesah Seder, should come in and join us. 


Naftali Bennet, the minister of defense of Israel, explains in a viral video that the single most important insight to bear in mind through this coronavirus pandemic, is that grandchildren need to stay separated from grandparents. FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE GRANDPARENTS (see video at the end of this article). This is sad, but very important because we need to protect the elders, who are the most exposed to the effects of this virus. 

So, some of us will be forced to stay away from some of our grandchildren this year…. 

What can we do to alleviate these painful separation? 

Let me tell you what I’m planning to do: 

First, I will decorate my dinning room with my grandchildren’s pictures and I will be thinking about them, especially as I sing MA NISHTANA…

I will write and email them some short explanations of the Haggadah, in a very clear language. I will ask my children to read it aloud for them on my behalf, if possibly, imitating my voice. 

I will buy (online) a special gift for this year’s Afikoman, I will take a picture of it, and send it to them via Whatsapp in advance. I will assure them that grandpa will deliver the gifts as soon as this thing is over!

I will ask my grandchildren to send me some artistic pictures of the 15 steps of the Seder: one with the cup of the Kiddush, another one doing Netilat Yadayim, or holding and breaking the matzot, etc. 

I will also ask my grandchildren to draw for me each one of the 10 plagues. They can also make some “masks” (now everyone knows about “masks”) which I will happily wear while reenacting the Makkot!

And finally, I will also ask from them to write me a personal letter with their greetings, their wishes, their feelings…. 

I will print all of these out and have everything ready, next to my Haggadah. 

I know that it is not the same as having all my grandchildren next to me . But, THIS TOO SHALL PASS. And we must visualize that Be”H next year, hopefully in the Bet haMikdash! we will celebrate Pesah all together again with ALL our loved ones: parents, children, uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents and grandchildren,  AMEN!

Rabbi Yosef Bitton

Taken from Rabbi Bitton’s Why is this Seder different from all other Seders? at

26 Replies to “Grandpareting this Pesah”

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