4 Sons & Sons

A discussion of Pesah/Passover generally and the Hagadah specifically. Please comment and contribute!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Return of Streimel (Sort of)

This is the first in what I hope to be a long series of guest-posts. I have tried to convince Streimel to make a glorious return to the world of the blog with a brilliant new essay on Pesah. He declined. In lieu of that, however, he polished up last year's Passover post and allowed me to present it for you folks. (He has taken his old posts off on his own site). Take it away, Striemel!

When I told a business associate that he wouldn't be able to call me from Friday 7pm to Monday 9pm he asked me if this is the 'silverpaper' holiday. He is Jewish by birth but cares about nothing more. A few years back he had a spasm of spirituality, it didn't even last long enough to have him register the names of the holidays, but he did remember the silver paper all over the house. He is right - I thought after putting down the phone with him - this is all about silver paper. Silver paper in the fridge, on the counters, around the backsplash and above the stove - the whole kitchen is engulfed in the shiny metallic retro look. We even use it to wrap the cooked, steamed, fried, baked eggs or any other different version of eggs that we eat. I wonder what this Yom Tov was about before silver paper was invented. This year we went for the first Seder night to my oldest brother, where my parents were, and the second we made ourselves at home. My wife could not understand why I wanted to go there the second night too, for I am usually the one who complains that it is too hectic with all the grandkids screaming around. I couldn't tell her the truth that it is much easier to get away with things at his house than when I am in my house leading the services and all the eyes are on me. The first night I made sure not to sit myself according to my seniority. I sat closer to the center of the table and sat my kids around me so I could 'take care of them'. I knew that the kids are not going to be there most of the time, but rather play with their cousins, which left me ample maneuvering space. Then I took myself the task of pouring everyone's cup דרך חרות; it is a laborious tasto giveve everyone exactly what he wants. Most went on the tried and true Kedem light wine; some needed a combo of Bartenura and grape juice. I noticed that the younger ones insisted on wine while the ones who have their own grown-ups diluted it with grape juice. My father had grape juice only. I am beginning to suspect him with heresy .I am not a big wine drinker and I am not fond of grape juice either. Drinking four cups of it is not really 'my cup of tea'. I made sure to bring along a non-see-through Silver כוס to use for the required ארבע כוסות. I got away with drinking a sip and a half at every turn. Reciting the הגדה wasn't bad either. I enjoyed the singing and the discussions of the meaning of the בעל ההגדה. When things got really boring I read and re-read the שיר השירים while wondering if it was written by the Rebbe זי"ע would we still think of him as holy. The מצות worked out pretty well too. I took the biggest כזיתים handmade sure that everyone sees what a big צדיק I am. Only, I made sure to start way after everyone, I leaned to the left as much as I could and started throwing down bits and pieces on the floor while dropping a few in my mouth too. Getting up I coughed a little ancomplained thatat the ערב פסח מצות this year is so thick and is really hard to chew it up in the two minute allotment. We went into this discussion on how long a כדי אכילת פרס is. I noticed during the debate that my youngest brother in-law who just got married is not participating. He didn't talk till after כורך. I couldn't take ithat thehe beat me in being a צדיק.

מרור (bitter herb) was the easiest of all. Nobody really noticed how little I put from the horseradish into the lettuce. There was none. I dutifully dipped it into the חרוסת and started munching on it. When my father started coughing loudly, I did too, when his face turned red so did mine. Soon all the male members were smacking their lips in exhilaration at the good fortune we had this year that the מרור stayed fresh and bitter. Everyone was coughing and turning colors, but no one outdid me. At one point, I wondered who else is also only playing and has no real מרור in his lettuce. I was going to wrestle my brother in in-law's portion from his hand and shake it out for everyone to see when I thought the better of it. It might have actually contained מרור and by doing it, I would have exposed myself.כורך was ok. I enjoyed the sandwich. Again, I didn't shove it down my throat in two minutes but nobody noticed. My kids enjoyed it too and asked for seconds. At this point, we were dangerously close to 12:55am "חצות". I was hoping that no one would notice but this newly wed had to announce it. My father had long ago heard of this אבני נזר that somehow makes you eat the אפיקומן twice. Since then the Seder night became longer with two hours. We all hurriedly ate another כזית, my father having said that because it's only a ספק we can rely on eating only one כזית. I waited until the newly wed started eating to take two כזיתים and I made sure that everyone notices it. He turned red in his face and I was a happy man. It was worth swallowing those big chunks of Matzoh. For שלחן עורך, I had no appetite anymore. The eggs in salt-water זכר לחגיגה didn't appeal to me. My son insisted on repeating the 'תורה' that we eat an egg because it is the same day in the week as תשעה באב is, thus destroying the little leftover appetite I still had. My mother insisted that if I don't eat I should come help in the kitchen, which I gladly did. I noticed that one box of eggs is already finished. There are 30 eggs on a tray and probably 18 trays of eggin a na box. Do the math. Earlier in shul, someone by יעלה ויבוא said חג הביצים instead of חג המצות. This empty box gave it some new meaning. We finished after three. I fell asleep thinking how great it is to be a Jew. אשר בחר בנו מכל העמים ונתן לנו את תורתו The second night was disastrous. I had to drink all the כוסות, swallow all the כזיתים, and say the הגדה from cover to cover. My daughter wanted to know by שפוך חמתך how come one who sees אליהו הנביא is not supposed to say anything and could it be that my son saw him. I understood her question when I saw my son smirking knowingly. I explained the best I could when my son wanted to know if nobody is allowed to say if he saw him or not how do we know that he came? I see a little אפיקורס in the making. My other son insisted that I take him to ספירה in shul, claim that 'everyone in his class is going'. Oh, what a classic. When my neighbor came knocking on my door to accompany me to shul I had no choice and went, my son in tow. The ecstasy and frenzy that I enjoyed not so long ago at the מצוה of ספירת העומר is gone, never to return. Sometimes I regret it though. Chag kosher Ve'sameah.

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