Well, it’s that time of year again…
In keeping with the theme of Jewish holidays, Passover celebrates the liberation of the Biblical Hebrews from generations of slavery in Ancient Egypt. The Hebrews were in Egypt primarily because of a pretty serious drought during the time of Joseph, and he was the Royal Vizier to the Pharaoh at the time (which meant he had connections) so he convinced his entire family to move to save themselves.
And things were pretty good, until along came another Pharaoh who “didn’t remember Joseph” (Biblical quote, too). He also seemed pretty unsettled by the sheer number of Hebrews that were currently taking up residence in his hometown, and decided to make them work for a living. And then work for no living.
Fast forward a couple of generations, and we meet Moses. Moses is alive because his mother put him in a basket down by the (Nile) river, and Pharaoh’s daughter happened to be playing in the reeds; she finds him and decides to adopt him, knowing exactly what he is. For the next few decades Moses is raised by the very people who make his peoples’ lives miserable, and he kind of loses it.
Moses runs away and finds himself; he also finds god in a burning bush that was not consumed. He comes back to Egypt a miracle worker and broken record. Essentially, this happens:
Moses: “Let my people go”
God smites Egypt with a plague
God takes the plague away
Pharaoh: “Just kidding!”
On the tenth time:
God smites Egypt with the worst plague ever – Death of the Firstborn
Pharaoh: “GTFO and don’t come back!”
Moses and Hebrews: “We’re going, we’re going!”
God: Wow, I smoted them good.
About three days later Pharaoh comes to his senses (what?!) and gives chase to the Hebrews. Moses, having now gotten over his fear of public speaking, intervenes and asks for god’s help. The Red Sea splits and the Hebrews are saved; the Egyptians can’t do the backstroke very well and drown.
I don’t remember what specific event this date commemorates (thanks, Bestamama and Pa, for that super expensive Jewish education!). But I think it’s the date the Hebrews left Egypt.
In their haste to leave Egypt, the Hebrews didn’t have enough time to let their bread rise (which I find hard to believe. They weren’t working at all, and there were 10 plagues of increasing creepiness that they were immune to. Really, they had no idea what was coming?). So that’s why we eat matza.
Generations of rabbis added stringency upon stringency, to the point where Jews today cannot have anything from any kind of grain product – no bread, crackers, cheerios, pasta, cookies, whiskey, bourbon; anything fun, really.
But – not only can we not eat any of these items, we can’t own any of them either.
Hence, the cleaning. I’m completely sure that this is how the concept of Spring Cleaning originated.
Passover starts on Friday night, so this week is being devoted to cleaning, shopping, and cooking. Nooshkin is naturally very excited for all the things, especially the cleaning and shopping.
Stinky Face is coming for the entire holiday and will be sleeping on the couch, which everyone is super excited about (no, really). We have lots of fun stuff planned, most of which does not involve cleaning out the fridge and oven.
Which I really should get back to…