Monday, April 2, 2012

The Seder Nazi

Passover is coming up this week.

As I look over the past few years, I noticed I've always included an entry about Pesach on roundseventeen. And thought, stealing the jargon of the Haggadah, "why should this year be any different than all others?"

Actually, in the reading of past year's postings I cannot believe I've never made mention of our very own Seder Nazi.

Her name was Judy and she was a friend of a friend of my wife's family. Sadly, Judy passed away a few years ago, but she was always a welcome guest at our seder table. Not only because it was the right thing to do, but because having Judy at our Seder always produced unforced laughter.

Let me back the story up a bit and tell you that Judy was an intellectual. She taught art history or English literature at one of the local colleges. If I didn't make it a habit of getting soused on red wine to celebrate the freedom of my ancestors every year, I could probably be more specific about her field of expertise.

But I can't, so I won't.

Judy's acumen went way beyond academia. She was equally well-versed in the Hagaddah and the proper procedures of a well-conducted seder. Her somewhat humorless rigor stood in deep contrast to my family's nonchalance and always-present irreverence.

Sitting at the head of the table and not always knowing the proper recital of the plagues or the correct method for hiding the afikomen, I made it a point to always have Judy sit to my immediate left. The second I screwed up a blessing or commenced the ceremonial washing of the hands in the wrong order, Judy was always there to nudge me under the table and keep me from wandering from the script.

She was my mealtime Moses.

When delving into deep theologic waters it's always helpful to have an authority figure ready to right the ship. Though one time Judy did snap at my then six-year-old daughter who let the charoseths accidentally touch the beitzah.

I don't think any of us will forget that.

We miss you Judy. And just as we set out a kiddush cup full of wine for Elijah, we will set one out for you as well. But don't hold it against us if we don't make it all the way to page 29 in the Haggadah for the festive meal.

In fact, I predict we'll get as far page 21 before my oldest daughter, tired of the wisdom of Rabbi Eliazar and Rabbi Gamliel, will whine, "let my people eat." And then we will.

So shall it be written, so shall it be done.


geo said...

My 5-minute version...

Moses at the Plate

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Jewish tribe of yore.
The Pharaoh wanted pyramids; once built, he wanted more.
And when the evil slavedrivers raised up their fearsome whip,
There was no Jewish slave around who dared to say "I quit."

The Jewish men they toiled in the desert heat all day.
The women cooked and cleaned and scrubbed until they said "Oy vey."
They thought, "If only someone could but ease our awful burden,
If only say that Moses could just put a special word in."

But Moses was a Prince of Egypt and strictly out of touch.
Though he saw Jews suffering, he didn't care that much.
He lived up in the palace and he lived just like a king,
And though it wasn't fair a bit, he didn't do a thing.

But then one day, out on a walk, he sat down on his tush.
Before he knew what happened there were flames upon a bush.
"Moses," said a voice that echoed from on high,
"You must confront that Pharaoh and spit into his eye."

"Tell Pharaoh 'let the Jews go free,' slaves they'll be no longer.
"Tell him though he's Pharaoh, Mr. Yahweh is much stronger
"Tell him if he does not heed, disaster's in the offing."
And with that the bush turned into smoke and Moses started coughing.

Apace he hied to Pharaoh now, and said "Let my people go."
Pharaoh laughed, and laughed some more and then said simply, "no."
So Moses said to God, he said, "hey, I need a hand."
And God responded with ten plagues that struck upon the land.

Frogs he sent, and boils, then darkness, hail and cattle.
Pharaoh wasn't nervous and said, "I bet I'll win this battle."
So God sent blood, locusts and beasts and then he sent some lice.
And Pharaoh said, "big deal, so that Goddy-poo ain't nice."

So Moses once more went to see that wicked Pharaoh,
"Let my people go right now, or I'll kill the first tomarrow."
Pharaoh said, "ok. Get out of here. Go wander in the sand.
"I do not like Jews anyway, get your butts out of my land."

But then he changed his mind again, so God he killed the sons.
Which made Pharaoh so mad he said, "Clear out now every one."
So Moses said, "Let's go, pack up. Don't even bring a snack.
"We're getting out of Egypt and we're never going back."

The Jews they were ecstatic, they could scarce believe their eyes.
They ran so fast, in fact, you see, their bread it didn't rise.
But then once more old Pharaoh he changed his wicked mind.
And said he to his soldiers, "Grab those Jews by their behind."

But Moses parted waters and drowned those cruel Egyptians.
When Pharaoh heard the news, you know, he went in to conniptions.
But at last the Jews were free from him to find their land of milk and honey.
They're there today and will not leave for war or threats or money.

Oh, somewhere in this promised land, our stomachs ache with hurt.
The kiddies and the parents say, "Oh boy, I want dessert."
But through the home dessert plates are as empty as they're round.
Cause there's no dessert this Pesach, the Afikomen ain't been found!

Jeff said...

Mealtime Moses. You see where I'm going here.