WHY IS THIS BLOG DIFFERENT FROM ALL OTHER BLOGS?: When I was a boy, Passover was my favorite Jewish holiday, mostly because of the food. (I am the only person I know who actually likes gefilte fish.) Sometime in my teens, though, it occurred to me that the whole point of Pesach is to celebrate the slaughter of the Egyptian firstborn -- or, at best, the fact that the Angel of Death passed over the Jews while attending to the business of killing Egyptian children. This offended my humanist sensibilities, especially since the Egyptian firstborn didn't have anything to do with the Pharaoh's refusal to let the Jews leave Egypt.
In fact -- according to the Bible, which is one weird book -- even the Pharoah didn't have much to do with that refusal. He keeps saying he'll let the damn slaves go, and then God "hardens his heart" and makes him change his mind. If it's revenge you're after, it would make more sense to kill God's firstborn -- which finally happens, I suppose, in a subsequent testament. (That's a pre-Vatican II interpretation, of course.)
Fortunately, I don't actually believe the story, so I can still settle down and enjoy the meal without any twinges of guilt. I went to a pleasant family seder in Philadelphia last night, and we'll be heading to a local synagogue for seder number two tonight. I've never celebrated the second seder before, no doubt because I'm a secular assimilationist child of intermarriage. A category, by the way, that never seems to turn up on the Census forms.
posted by Jesse 3:30 PM
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