Passover Primer

04/06/2015 02:49 pm ET | Updated Jun 06, 2015

Whether you are hosting or attending a Passover Seder, chances are you'll have trouble keeping your eyes open while your cousin recounts the Plagues. Here are some little known Passover facts to help enliven the evening.

At what time during the Seder do you start eating?
The Wise Son knows. Twenty minutes before the Seder starts, go to the nearest Chinese restaurant and order a Happy Family, which is something you won't encounter in the presence your blood relatives. You're not going to get anything to eat at the Seder - other than parsley and bitter herbs - until the Red Sea parts, Uncle Julius describes his bypass procedure and the rib roast, warming in the oven, turns into kryptonite.

There are more than four questions!
Be honest. When was the last time a Jew limited themselves to four questions? It takes 26 just to order lunch. Is the tuna all white meat? Can I have that on brioche instead of rye? You get my point. Now imagine you are Moses. You are leading thousands of Jews from their homes to a faraway land. Did they have questions? You bettchya!

Here are just a few:

1. Should we pack for dressy or casual?
2. What's this nonsense about walking across the sea?
3. Will there be belly dancers? My wife will put my eyes out!
4. Can you put us next to the Finklesteins? We do everything together.
5. My son has a hummus allergy. Who do I talk to about that?
6. Look, I don't like frogs falling from the sky either, do we have to leave now? This is my busy season.
7. Israel is nothing but rocks and sand. Why not go to Miami?

The truth about matzos.
Matzo was not eaten by the Tribe of Moses. I have it on strict authority that they packed enough poppy seed bagels to last 40 days. The tasteless, dry, matzos associated with Passover was invented in 1910 by one Morris Kimmelstein, a wallpaper hanger. Business was bad and he had a warehouse filled with paste.

"If business doesn't pick up," he complained to his wife, "We'll have to eat it."

She knew how to make soup from a stone but had no intention of feeding her kids wallpaper paste. Instead, she spread the paste on baking pans and turned it into a tasteless cracker.

"Feh," said Kimmelstein. "Wallpaper tastes better."

His wife consulted the Talmud and returned with the answer. "Tell everyone it's the Bread of Affliction, kosher for Passover," she said. "And slap a big Jewish star on the box."

"I don't know," Kimmelstein murmured.

Hephzibah frowned, then smiled. "I've got it," she said, "Put a free Haggadah inside every box!"

Needless to say, Kimmelstein's matzos became a Passover tradition and he nimbly diversified by getting into the prune juice game.

Places to hide the Afikomen.
Hiding the Afikomen, a piece of matzo for which the finder is given a dollar or the keys to a new Porsche, depending on the family's affluence, has become a big snooze. Nobody pays attention anymore. It's always found within minutes and, by that time, most of the guests are making a mad dash for the door. Here are places to hide the matzo that are sure to enliven your Seder.

1. In the drawer with the sex toys.
2. Between the pages of Penthouse.
3. Inside your teenage daughter's diary.

The seder includes the singing of "Dayenu", an ancient song which insists, like a long-suffering Jewish mother, that we would've been happy with much less. You parted the Red Sea for us, it wasn't necessary. We could've taken a Viking Cruise. You gave us Ten Commandments? Nine would've been okay. Adultery is a matter of taste.