Let My People Groan: A Passover Tradition

Anytime something goes wrong (a favorite team losing a game, a bad bet on the stock market, getting caught in a downpour), my friend David and I always look at each other and say, “Well, at least it’s not Passover.”

This is for two key reasons: First, as Jews we like to complain our way through each holiday — we even tweak the holidays to make them more complaint-friendly. Example: Matzah constipates the hell out of you, but psyllium husk is not kosher for Passover. (Related product idea: Matzahmucil.) And second, Passover, in particular, sucks. The seders, depending on who is leading them, are only somewhat painful. But the real killer is the week without leavened bread or any other worthwhile grain.

In the past, our communal and traditional whining was limited to the earshot of those within our proximity. But thanks to social media, that has changed. Let my people go on to the Internet and complain. So let’s do this. In the spirit of the ten plagues, here are ten things that plague me on the eve of yet another Pesach.

  1. Only the Jews would mark forty years in the desert without leavened bread by punishing themselves with another week without leavened bread.
  2. You want to know why bagels have holes? Because complete rolls made us too happy as a people.
  3. Some background: The Israelites were instructed to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a slaughtered lamb and, upon seeing this, the Lord knew to pass over the first-born in these homes. This was key, because if your door was not marked, the Lord would kill your first born child. (When he first read that, George R.R. Martin was like, “Whoa, is that a bit much?”)
  4. I’m not sure I buy the part of the Passover story that revolves around the parting of the ocean. If Jews had realized they forgot the ingredients for decent bread midway through the Red Sea, they would have stopped and turned back.
  5. The Old Version: Why on all other nights do we sit up straight at the table, but on this night we are able to recline? The new version: Why on this night can we finally sit down after spending the last year using a standup desk?
  6. There is a stereotype that Jews don’t camp. What the story of the exodus out of Egypt tells us is that Jews actually do camp. But only when they’re being chased.
  7. Moses led his people across the desert for forty years, but then god did not let him into the promised land. That’s like Marc Andreessen not being able to watch Internet porn.
  8. The best part of every seder is when of the older Jews at the table says something about the bitter herbs, and doesn’t use a silent H.
  9. When the Red Sea first parted, one old Jew looked at his wife and said, “Vhat? I schlepped my swimming trunks on a forty year trip for nothing?
  10. At the seder table, a single chair is always left open for Elijah the Prophet. But he never shows up. Because Passover sucks.

I don’t want to end this on a negative note. But I’m a Jew. It’s what we do.

Dave Pell writes the NextDraft newsletter and app because he wouldn’t listen to his dad and get into real estate.