Saturday, April 11, 2009

So let it be written, so let it be done - and hurry up, for God's sake

So, when we left off, we were preparing for Passover. The original Passover preparation involved smearing lamb’s blood on the doorpost and making special preparations for eating dinner prior to travelling, as God commanded “Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste.”

The lamb’s blood was a marker for the Angel of Death so that he would pass over the Hebrew’s houses and slay the first born in only the Egyptian’s houses. When I was 10, I had a paper route and I was able to find my customers’ houses without benefit of blood markers, but the God of Biblical times was a bit over the top. (Any God who uses cutting off a bit of penis as a contractual covenant obviously favors the dramatic gesture).

The blood smearing is one of those elements of the Passover origins that we forego these days. What with lambs being scarce in the ‘burbs and the concerns about food borne illnesses, it’s just as well. We also don’t make much of a deal about the shoe-wearing or loin-girding, which is basically just preparing for dinner as if company was coming: putting on a belt, shoes and something nicer than that t-shirt with the pit stains (“and tuck it in, for God’s sake"). As for eating with your staff in hand, that would seem to contravene eating in haste, as having two hands free would seem more efficient. But who am I to question?

One of the reasons I doubt the complete authenticity of the Passover story is that I don’t think that any Jews could prepare for a hasty departure, at least not the Jews I know. When we visit my in-laws in Florida, any trip is preceded by a fifteen-minute discussion of who is actually ready and who has been waiting for whom and whether somebody has the coupons for the free meal and whether you need a sweater in the restaurant.

You know that the Jews in Egypt went through something like this:
“Wait, I have to go to the bathroom. Did all of you kids go? I want to make good time crossing the desert – we’re not stopping to let you pee.”
“You’re not driving the cart after four cups of wine.”
“Sadie, where is my belt and my shoes?”
“Do I wear them? Find them yourself. I’m trying to make bread for the trip. This is not going to have time to rise, you know, Mr. ‘we must leave ‘ere midnight’. What kind of person goes out in the desert at this hour?”
“Where is Sharon? She is always late.”
“I can’t find my good staff.”
“Did you smear the lamb’s blood?”
“I thought you did it.”
"Uh, oh. Where is Seymore, our first born?"
And so on.

In the end we had a good Seder, once we found the silver and the “good” glasses and enough nice serving platters. We spent a pleasant evening, reading and discussing the haggadah, drinking our four cups of wine and eating a wonderful dinner. We wish you all a Happy Passover and/or Happy Easter.


Ann's Rants said...

And we don't have time for the bread to rise, but hold on...this matzo granola takes two hours to bake...

Found you over at Humor Bloggers.

JohnnyB said...

Ann, mmmmmm, matzah granola! Yes, the Jews would not have suffered in the desert if they had had all the Passover foods available to us.
Thanks for reading - come back again.

scarletvirago said...

(Any God who uses cutting off a bit of penis as a contractual covenant obviously favors the dramatic gesture).

Bwahahahaha! Good thing I don't celebrate, or I would have spit my seder wine all over the computer screen.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what you're talking about. :-)


Tina said...

OMG - I used to date a cute Jewish boy, but he used to drive me crazy! It would take him a week to pack to go anywhere. He was so neurotic.

Jenny said...

:) Very funny!

I am going to a Seder tomorrow night. Looking forward to it! (And now I know to wear sandals!)

Jenny said...

Also, the Jewish chaplain in the Spiritual Care office gave me a box of matzah she had left over (I love it!) and I found this recipe today:

Totally going to have to try it!

JohnnyB said...

Scarlet, I'm glad your computer is safe. Not sure how many Seders take place in Germany, anyway.

Karen, sure that conversation in Florida was entirely imaginary except for, um, all of it.

Tina, hi, thanks for checking out the blog. From Humorbloggers?

Jenny, enjoy the Seder! Matzah is not so bad, it's really just having no other choice for 8 days that makes it bad. Oh and the digestive binding issues - seriously, part of the preparation for Seder is having your last bowel movement for a week.