August 23, 2011
Passover is finally over. The more religiously observant amongst you may find this a rather unusual statement to make in the middle of August, but this week I finally found the pizza cutter languishing at the back of a kitchen drawer where we throw all those daft things and tape up for the week of affliction. I marked the discovery by returning the boxes of Pesach crockery, cutlery and cooking utensils to the garage. They had been waiting patiently by the front door for me to perform the task. You’ll have gathered that it’s not something I see as a particular priority, but my wife had, a couple of days earlier, threatened to leave me if she tripped over the frying pan handle that protrudes from the opening of one of the boxes one more time.
August is not my record. A few years ago I succeeded in not returning the boxes for the entire year simply by hiding them under a large sheet. However, since we had the hall decorated Mrs J has put her foot down. Frankly, I don’t see the point of stowing it all away. It’s always such a balagan unpacking it all. Inevitably one box of particularly heavy items will collapse under its own weight and all for what, exactly? A week of eating off the tatty crockery we inherited from my grandmother, that’s what. It was tatty crockery when I was a child. Now the dog looks upon us with pity before turning back to eat from his shiny stainless steel bowl.
The almighty will, I hope, forgive me when I tell you that Pesach is my least favourite festival. It doesn’t even make my top ten. I’d happily do all the fasts instead of Pesach. In fact the only reason I don’t currently observe all the fasts is in anticipation that the Lord will somehow offer me the deal I have in mind. If nothing else, such an arrangement would free me from the havoc that Passover food plays with my constitution. Every morning for days I’m reminded of what a pitiful soul I have become.
Nothing drags on like Seder night, not even 25 hours without food, and from me that’s really saying something; I’m a man who doesn’t eat between meals, but only because I eat eight meals a day. Having to spend two nights in a row in the company of some fifty family members ranging from screaming overtired infants to snoring overtired geriatrics seems to be a more profound form of penitence than sitting in synagogue without food for a day. It’s on Seder night that I make my silent petition for forgiveness for the sins I must clearly have committed to be punished in such an excruciating way, not Yom Kippur.
Of course the solution to all this would be to spend Passover in Israel. That way my wife would never need to clean the house again and I’d be able to put grandma’s crockery on e-bay. You would find me spending the week waited on, hand and foot. I would turn up at the hotel dining room in time for the Seder meal and leave just as the songs about goats and counting start, and nobody would care a jot. What bliss!
Unfortunately this is, and can only be, a dream. Why? Because that’s exactly what all the local alta cacas do and there’s no way I’m paying for flights to Israel at their most expensive for Seder night in a freezing air-conditioned warehouse of a hotel when half the guests are the people I see every week in shul.
The good thing is that at least Pesach, like my son-in-law, only visits once a year, and now it’s finally over there’s still 8 months to go before it comes round again.