Every year, as soon as Purim ends, holiday-observing Jews everywhere shift into hyper-drive and begin their totally disproportionate preparation for the next big holiday -- Pesach. Keep in mind that this is the holiday that celebrates the Israelites escape, compliments of The Almighty, from their many hundreds of years' enslavement in Egypt. Let's just say that they left under less than choice circumstances and things didn't work out so well for the Egyptians.
If you don't know the story I suggest you watch The Prince of Egypt because I don't have time to tell it here.
Everyone cleans, and cleans, and cleans, and fights the maniacal crowds in the grocery stores to buy food stuffs that -- under any sane conditions -- we would never eat because of their outright unhealthiness. Yes, I am talking to you chemicals I cannot pronounce and transfat!!!
Now keep in mind, that this is all to represent what 2 million slaves did approximately 3300 years ago. I guess they also could not imagine a life without potato-starch brownies and pizza crust.
And we do this with a degree of enthusiasm that is beyond my comprehension.
As we finally sit down to our Seder the first night of the holiday, all the preparation actually seems worthwhile. Not only is the wine-drenched night educational, but the food tastes better because of the amount of work we all did to get to the point of actually eating it. The later into the night that we sit and discuss the Exodus story and its implications, the better. It might be 2:00 am but we go to bed very, very satisfied.
And then the whole thing goes to hell. (Call out -- anyone who does not agree with the following comments definitely did not clean or cook for Pesach and probably spent the entire holiday in a hotel. So thank your lucky stars and sit quietly.)
For the next seven days you can literally watch people's declining enthusiasm for escaping slavery. In fact, you begin to question the motivation of those slaves and their leader, Moses. And then, your curiosity turns to disdain and you begin to wonder if anything you did for the past month even remotely resembles the slave experience.
Here's a quick rundown of the disintegration of Pesach enthusiam....
Day 2: You survived the Seder. Your head isn't pounding too much. You have a few sheets of matza and butter because the first few are always novel and delicious in their old familiar way. Then you eat the Seder leftovers before swearing off food forever.
Day 3: Much to your own surprise, you wake up hungry. You make breakfast with everything but bread and cereal. It is no big deal. You boil a life supply of eggs, cut up a lot of fruit and veggies, and head out for the day... to the beach or on a hike.
Day 4: You start to notice that there are matza flakes wherever you walk. Your kitchen is beginning to resemble Dresden after the WWII bombing. All the items you carefully kashered and wrapped in foil are beginning to look a little cruddy.
Day 5: You start to worry that you don't have enough matza to get through the remainder of the holiday and you debate whether or not to buy more (and potentially have truly unwanted leftovers) or to risk it. Whichever way you choose to go is the wrong way. All the food in your fridge is starting to look less desirable but you will be damned before you throw it out -- your family is going to eat it whether they want to or not.
Day 6: You are wondering how many meals you can create from eggs and canned olives -- oh, yes, and that gigantic jar of weird mayo that normally you would never buy. Your kids are home so, no matter how hard you try, your kitchen is now looking like full-on Blitzkrieg.
Day 7: You couldn't care less if your entire family starves or eats butter by the spoonful. You notice that your dog has moved her food into a secret corner because everyone is eyeing it suspiciously. You cannot help but ask yourself if this has even an iota of similarity with the Exodus from Egypt because you know in your heart that it does not -- no one left Egypt with a Manischewitz chocolate Passover cake mix.