Friday, April 18, 2008

One Last Passover Post

First, a link to a most excellent Ahad Ha'am quote, courtesy of Dov Bear. This is particularly amusing given the fact that Ha'am was an apikoros of the old school, a rebellious son from a religious family. Also, I like the Wikipedia article on him:
Ahad Ha'am traveled frequently to Palestine and published reports about the progress of Jewish settlement there. They were generally glum.
An early malcontent blogger!

Also, here is my version of the Exodus story, snipped from the Haggadah I wrote for my upcoming seder. Enjoy!

The Story of the Exodus

Once there was a famine in the land of Canaan. The Hebrews’ cattle had no grass to eat.


Cow #1: I’m starving. Moo.

Cow #2: I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.

Cow #1: I should eat you for that.

The Hebrews weren’t doing too well, either.


Asher: Hey, Dad, I’m hungry!

Naftali: Daaaad! We’re out of dates…and oil…and grain… and everything else!

Jacob: Kids, stop whining! Your brother Joseph is a big shot in Egypt. And, I hear they have food. Let’s go visit him for a while.

Jacob’s Kids: Yay!

Jacob: Now I hope you all used the bathroom, because we aren’t stopping until we get there.


In Egypt:


Joseph: Dad?! What a surprise! Of course I’ll be glad to help out the family…Who wants dinner?


Generations passed and the Hebrews remained in Egypt. A new king came to power who mistrusted the strangers in his country.


Pharaoh: These Hebrews are a threat to our way of life. Let’s enslave them and use them to build things.

Hebrew: Lame!

Egyptian laborer: Hey, they’re taking our jobs!

Despite the harsh conditions of slavery, the Hebrews continued to grow in numbers. Fearing a slave rebellion, the Pharaoh ordered that the royal midwives to kill any male Hebrew infants at birth.


Pharaoh: Look here midwives, you get to be the front line for population control. I’m counting on you to keep the numbers down.

Shifrah and Puah: We hear and obey, oh great Pharaoh.


But they did not.


Pharaoh: Hey, why are there so many baby boys? I told you to take care of that.

Shifrah: By the time we get there…

Puah: They’ve squirted the little guys out.

Shifrah: And then it’s back to work at the pyramids. They’re really a remarkable people, sir.


The Pharaoh was annoyed.


Pharaoh: All Hebrew boys get dumped in the river from now on, got it?


One couple, named Amram and Yocheved, followed the decree to the letter.

Yocheved: I was skeptical, but this basket really is watertight.

Amram: God willing, it will survive the journey down the river.

Yocheved: Don’t rock the boat, son.

Amram: We’ll see.

The baby’s sister Miriam kept an eye on the basket as it drifted downstream.

Pharaoh’s daughter: Hey! What’s in that thing? It could be valuable. A baby! Aww, you’re so cute and pathetic.

Miriam: Hey Princess!

Pharaoh’s daughter: Yes?

Miriam: You won’t be able to nurse that kid; it’ll ruin your figure. Besides, he’s a Hebrew. They need special food, like goldfish. I’ll go find you a Hebrew nurse.

Pharaoh's daughter: Ok!

Miriam: These Egyptians aren’t too bright.

Yocheved: Yeah, we should remember this.

The Pharaoh's daughter raised the baby as her own son, naming him Moshe, or Moses, because she “drew him from water.”


Pharaoh’s daughter: My second choice was Smelly Butt.

Moses grew up as a member of the royal family. One day Moses saw an overseer abusing a slave.

Overseer: Lazy swine. Taste my whip.

Slave: Ow.

Moses: Not cool.

Moses killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand.


Moses: Enjoy your sand-wich! Ha-Ha-Ha!

Slave: Ow.


The next day, Moses saw two Hebrews fighting. One of them hit the other.

Moses: Hey, quit it.

Slave: Who are you to judge us? Will you kill me like you did the Egyptian?

Moses: Crap.

With the slaves talking about Moses’ homicidal freak-out, word eventually got back to Pharaoh.


Pharaoh: Die, killer.

Moses: I think a strategic retreat is in order.


Moses ran away to the
land of Midian.


Moses: I’m tired and thirsty and hungry and bored. Hey, a well. Hooray! One of my many problems is solved!

While Moses was enjoying the well’s cool water, some girls approached.

Girls: Get away from our well, weirdo.

Moses: Sorry.


Suddenly some shepherds tried to chase them away.


Shepherd: No girls allowed. This water is reserved for important creatures, like goats.

Moses: Back off!

Girls: Our hero!

Moses: You’re well-come.

Girls: Ow.

The girls told their father Jethro all about the mysterious stranger.


Jethro: And he didn’t even ask for anything in return?

Girls: No, he was a perfect gentleman.

Jethro: Sounds suspicious.

Jethro offered Moses his daughter Tzipporah.


Moses (happy): Thanks, Dad!

Tzipporah (less happy): …Thanks… Dad.


While tending his flock, Moses saw a cool pyrotechnic show in the form of a bush.


Moses: Cool, it doesn’t burn up.

Bush: But that’s not all! If you act right now you’ll get the chance to REDEEM YOUR PEOPLE!

Moses: Doesn’t burn up and talks, eh? This is one heck of a bush.

Bush: Actually, I’m God manifested in a bush.

Moses: Whatever you say, O mighty Bush.

Bush: Look, Moe, you really need to help your people.

Moses: But I have things really good here. I have a kid now, and Tzipporah’s got the tent set up just the way I like it.

Bush: I have heard my people’s cries, and have come to deliver them from the Egyptians. And you’re going to help. You need to go talk to the Pharaoh.

Moses: Why me? The Hebrews won’t follow me.

Bush: Tell them God sent you. The God of their fathers, and that He said He’s going to get them out of this. And if the Pharaoh does not release you, I will deal with him, and then he will let you go.

Moses: Why don’t you just do that and leave me out of it?

Bush: What’s that in your hand?

Moses: My walking-stick.

Bush: Really? Put it on the ground.


The stick turned into a serpent.


Moses: Holy crap! A talking wizard-demon bush!

Bush: Pick it up, stupid.

Moses picked it up, and the stick changed back.


Bush: Tell them of this sign, and they will believe.

Moses: First, don’t do that again. Second, I’m a really bad public speaker. I’m really not the one you want to lead a popular liberation movement.

Bush: You’re starting to annoy me. Your brother Aaron was head of the local Hebrew Slave Debating Society. Use him.

Moses: Brother? Since when?

Aaron: Since five seconds ago. Hi there.

Bush: Put your words in his mouth and he’ll do the rest.

Moses: That doesn’t seem very honest.

Bush: Hey, this is politics, everybody does it.

Moses: What about the people that wanted to kill me?

Bush: Don’t worry, they’re all dead. There’s a new Pharaoh in charge now.

Moses: Right, because we all remember how good things got the last time that happened.


Moses returned to Egypt, where he and Aaron spoke to the elders of the people.


Aaron: Um… Moses says… sorry, God says… that we’re getting out of here. Spread the word, guys.

Moses: And you’re the good speaker?

Aaron: It’s a charisma thing.


The brothers went to the new Pharaoh to explain why he should let the Hebrews go.


Aaron: And if you look at chart F, you can see that if you’d divert your workforce from building huge triangles back to farming, your economy actually wouldn’t suffer that much.

Moses: So what do you think?

Pharaoh: Um… how about… no?

Moses: But, look, we’ve got a creepy staff-snake thing! Show him, Aaron!

Pharaoh: Not impressed. My court magicians can do that.

Aaron: But my staff-snake just ate theirs.

Pharaoh: That just makes your snake a bully.

Moses: You’ll be sorry.

There followed Ten Plagues:


The river turned into blood.

Pharaoh: Red is my favorite color.

The land was overrun by frogs.

Pharaoh: I find the ribbit sound soothing.


Everyone got lice.


Pharaoh: I’m already bald.

A swarm of flies and wild beasts attacked the Egyptians.

Pharaoh: No two ways about it, this one sucks. But still, no.

A disease exterminated the Egyptians’ livestock.

Pharaoh: Yum… grain.

Boils appeared on everyone’s skin.

Pharaoh: Hold my appointments for a while.

Fiery hail flew down from the sky.

Pharaoh: Eep. I hope that’s a comet.

Locusts ate the Egyptians’ crops.

Pharaoh: I sense my options are becoming limited.

Darkness covered the land.

Pharaoh: At least no one can see how miserable we are.

Several times the Pharaoh agreed to let the Hebrews go so Moses would stop the plagues, but then he always broke his word.


Moses: What kind of maniac thinks it’s a good idea to jerk around people that can whip up fiery hail?

The last plague was the death of the firstborn, which would affect both men and beast. The Hebrews spread lamb’s blood over their homes so the Angel of Death would pass by their homes and leave their kids alone.


Moses: He’s got to give in now.

God: Oh, he’d like to, but I’m hardening his heart.

Moses: What? Why? I thought the point was for us to get out of here.

God: I like to show off. This way everyone will get to see all the cool ideas I planned.

Moses: You’re kind of nuts.


The Pharaoh, yet again, said no.


Pharaoh: Joke’s on you, stupid! All of our livestock are already dead.

Moses: I hope your son thinks it’s funny.


The Pharaoh finally gave in, and let the Hebrews go.


Pharaoh: Your God sucks, and so do you. I never want to see any of you people again. Get out of my sight.

Moses: Consider us gone.

The Hebrews packed in a hurry. They were so worried the Pharaoh would change his mind again that they didn’t leave time for their bread to rise. That is why we eat matzah on Passover.


All future Jews: Thanks a lot.

The Hebrews were not the only ones to leave Egypt. A “mixed multitude” went with them.


Moses: Plenty of room on the freedom train!

Mixed multitude: This cracker is awful. What is this, a brick?

Miriam: No, you’re thinking of haroset, but more on that later.

Even the Pharaoh’s daughter came with them, changing her title (bat-Pharaoh), for the name Batya (daughter of God).

Yocheved: This could get awkward.

Sure enough, the Pharaoh changed his mind and chased after the Hebrews with his army of six hundred chariots, catching up with them at the Sea of Reeds.


Hebrew #1: Thanks a lot, Moses.

Hebrew #2: Why take us out of Egypt just to get us killed?

Hebrew #3: First Matzah, now this!

Moses: Don’t worry. God will fight for us. This is the last you will see of any of these Egyptians. Hey, God! Little help?

God: No problem, I’ve got this.

Moses: You’ll part the sea?

God: Even better. I’ll part the sea, then harden Pharaoh’s heart again so they chase after you and all die.

Moses: What? No, I mean, we don’t need you to do that. Just help us escape.

God: I told you, I’ll take care of this. The Egyptians will know that I am God.


God told Moses to lift his staff. He did, and the sea parted.


Moses: If you turn into a snake right now, I’m quitting.


The Hebrews raced across the sea-bed and made it to the other side. Then the Egyptians came after them.


Pharaoh: Let’s go after them for some reason! Charrge!


Then God told Moses to lift his staff again. He did, and the waters returned. The Egyptians were gone.


Moses: …


The Hebrews celebrated their freedom and danced and sang.


Miriam: God is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation…God is a man of war, God is His name. Pharaoh's chariots and his host has He cast into the sea, and his chosen captains are sunk in the Red SeaYou did blow with Your wind, the sea covered them; they sank as lead in the mighty waters. Who is like You, O God, among the mighty? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? ...You in Your love have led the people that You have redeemed; You have guided them in Your strength to Your holy place… God shall reign for ever and ever. (Exodus 15:11-18)


While the Hebrews danced, the angels in Heaven wished to join them. But God denied their request.

God: These, too, are my creatures drowning in the sea! And you would celebrate this? What’s wrong with you?

* * *

The Rabbis taught that it is wrong to celebrate the death of anyone, even your enemy. “Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles.” (Proverbs 24:17) That is why we are commanded to remove one drop of wine for each plague. We cannot celebrate “with a full cup” when our freedom came through the suffering of others. We might also consider that there is a fast the day before Passover known as the Fast of the Firstborn. There is a tradition that says the firstborn Hebrews fasted before the Exodus because they were still not convinced they were holy enough to merit saving. Perhaps the fast also serves to remind us of the various things we still, and may always, need to atone for.


I hope everyone has a wonderful Pesach.

1 comment:

Jon said...

Is the dude on that webring thing supposed to be Moses?