so tonight starts the jewish holiday of passover. it’s quite an involved story, (the book of exodus could break it down for you. or you could click on that handy lil link in the first sentence of this post. tad bit briefer!), but basically:
the jews were enslaved for hundreds of years in egypt, what, like 3/4,000 years ago? i’m not exactly sure, but a very long time ago, as in, the era of pyramids (since the enslaved jews actually built some of them). so there was moses (“let my people go!”), and then G-d stepped in and there were plagues (locusts, darkness, boils, you know, just your average week in the life of the ancients) and then grand finale: the angel of death/killing of the first born (son). the jews put lambs blood on their doors to signify they were jewish, and so the angel passed over (hence “passover”) their homes and their sons were spared. that was pretty much the last straw for the egyptians, and they were like, “get out.”
so the jews left in a huge hurry. such a hurry that their bread didn’t have time to rise. hence matzah (the flat cracker-like stuff that’s sold around this time of year). then the pharoah (egyptian ruler) was like, no, wait, i changed my mind. so the jews are pursued in the desert until they hit the red sea. just as they’re about to be captured, it splits and they get to the other side, and splash, the red sea crashes on the egyptian soldiers. then there’s 40 years in the desert and there you go.
it feels kinda wacky to write it all out here on a blog entry in 2009. i mean, plagues? angel of death? lamb’s blood? an ocean splitting? but this is in the Torah (the old testament), and whether or not you’re into the details, the bottom line is, us jews were in dire straights and G-d stepped in and saved us. so we commemorate G-d’s kindness and the freedom we enjoy today every year at passover by not eating leavened bread (instead we eat the aforementioned matzah; it represents the hardships of our enslaved ancenstors) and a host of other things for a week. we also have two sedars, which retell the exodus from israel. the first one’s tonight and the second is tomorrow night (always the first and second nights of the holiday).
i’ve always loved passover. ppl think i’m crazy for it, since there are so many food restrictions. but first of all, i enjoy anything associated with food. also, to me, passover [“pesach” (PAY-saCH) in hebrew, and that last “CH” you say like you’re clearing your throat. that’s right! you got it 😉 ] means spring. there’s fresh fruits, things are blooming, the sun’s out. also? cream cheese. passover means whipped cream cheese (easier to spread on very breakable matzah). also chocolate. and chocolate-covered matzah (sounds weird but really, sooo good).
i usually forget it after the second sedar is over, but passover also means freedom. that’s the real meaning of it. the jewish ppl have had their fair of drama. usually some leader or group of ppl is trying to kill us off or at least force us to stop practicing or convert. but here we are. still here. still goin’ strong. there may be less of us, but we’re here and determined to be around for the long haul. that’s really what this holiday is about. the freedom to live as jews, and that G-d’s never abandoned us, not even in our darkest hour. there are still jews around the world that can’t practice their faith freely, and passover’s a time to reflect on that and pray that one day our world will evolve so all jews, all ppl, can be free.
so, yes. b-bye bread! b-bye pizza. and also many other things (like beans and peanut butter and rice and corn chips and corn syrup, which is in a surprising number of things) that i won’t go into. something i forgot to mention? for all you wine lovers out there? yeah you’re totally supposed to drink four full cups of wine during each sedar. i stick to grapejuice, but yeah. four cups. of wine. haha. tttys, everyone!