Chametz! Chametz! Ahhhh! All the damn Chametz!
That's pronounced "Ha Metz." No, I'm not a disgruntled fan of New York's lesser baseball team (Forgive me I'm from Philly). I'm a Jew getting ready for Pesach (Passover). G-d said, "Get rid of your chametz and don't have it anywhere in your possession for seven days"... or something like that. I could look up the actual quote, but why? Nobody is working from the actual quote; we're all just working from what we "think" it is. By chametz, G-d meant leavened bread. The rabbis of the Middle Ages, who canonized Jewish law, added nearly anything and everything that had ever, or could have possibly ever, been in contact with chametz. In other words ketchup, mustard and everything else that is opened in the refrigerator or pantry has to be thrown out.
"It has to go out, it's chametz." my wife says.
"It's Tomato paste and sugar with a dash of water, it's not chametz." I say.
"But a crumb might have gotten in to it."
"Ya think?" I say questioningly with my resolve to this assault on my sanity crumbling. "Yes" she says, smelling blood.
Moving in for the kill, she declares that everything in the house must go. With one final gasp I feebly offer "How could a loving G-d want us to throw away food in a world where people are starving?" But... out it goes... all of it.
This is Spring Cleaning... on steroids. "It's the way she grew up. Some of that stuff is hard to let go of." mentions my friend Jeremy. "I grew up with Passover too." I argue, "We just called it Easter." I let go of that didn't I?
Then it hit me. This is the problem. Passover is celebrated exactly as it is described biblically or even more strictly. Sure; this was an extremely important moment in history. It's the moment when G-d saves the Jews from Egypt, takes them to the desert and gives them the Torah. In fact, this is the moment of creation of the Jewish people and their religion.
But the same could be argued about Easter. it is the foundational moment of Christianity. And, if anything, it is an equally hard sell. "Easter" included elements of torture and crucifixion. Over time, this has been transformed into a sweet pastel-washed holiday featuring a bunny and lots of colored eggs. Out with the torture and crucifixion and in with the bunnies, chicks and the nicely painted eggs.
And they say the Jews control the media?
Yisrael Campbell is currently starring in Circumcise Me, at Off Broadway's Bleecker Street Theater.
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