March 30, 2004 at 10:30:46a.m.

I have some really fine memories of Passovers past when I was a young child and even as I was older. Passover was always the time when you knew family would be together. You knew that you would see B and Z (Bubbe and Zayde), Tantes and Fetters (the great aunts and great uncles), the (regular) aunts and uncles, and cousins, cousins and more cousins. You knew that by the time they all left the house, you would be glad to see them go, but you looked forward to seeing them nonetheless.

If you were really young and still not admitted to the adults’ table for the seder, then you were concerned with your performance of Kiddush, or the Four Questions (better known in our house as the Fier Kashes), or Dayeinu, or Adir Hu, or some other great operatic part or another! You just knew that if you were called upon to read, you would blow it- you would mangle some word or another. More than likely, the word you would mangle would be (Rabbi)Azariah.

You knew you were on your way the first year you were admitted to the ADULTS’ TABLE. You had arrived! You were part of the aristocracy! You were part of the Big People- no longer a squirt, a half pint, a little kid or a rug rat.

Every seder featured at least one pain in the neck relative who monopolized the conversation, and who asked the Fifth Question over and over, so often in fact, that everyone wanted to kill him/her. You don’t remember the Fifth Question? It is “When do we eat?” Often, several people could be counted upon to supply the whining undertone which was the hallmark of the question.

Dinner was always an excercise in Jewish gluttony. After the soup, chopped liver, and gefilte fish, came the main course: chicken, turkey, brisket, meatballs, sweet potato tzimmes, and carrot tzimmes. Add some wilted salad and soggy, over-cooked veggies and all the veggies from the roast beast, and you had a yom tov meal fit for everyone except Uncle Murray who always complained about something.

Dinner itself was punctuated with the loud remonstrations of the Fetters who could only agree with each other when they were attacking one of the others. One would voice an opinion and the others would jump to the attack. “Oh, so now you’re an expert?” “Hey, Sam, look who tinks he’s an expoit.” “Er is ah expert un ich bin der President…. ” And so on. Until,that is, one by one they fell asleep. It must have been the turkey. Dinner was never as much fun as when the Fetters were all snoring away at the table. We used to play a game called Q’s and O’s. We would look at a sleeping person and call out Q or O depending upon how they were sleeping. If the mouth was open, they were an O. If the tongue was out, too, they were a Q. Q’s were somewhat rare, so the person who could first call out a Q was the winner.

Before you knew it, it was time to open the door for Elijah. You just knew that your dopey brother or some idiot cousin would be on the other side of the door dressed like a Bedouin in a feeble attempt to imitate some pathetic vision of Elijah. Yup, Elijah came to our seder dressed in a bathrobe, wearing a towel turban-style on his head.

As the hour grew ever later, the seder would quickly wind down. Before you knew it, it was all over. Another seder the next day and then off to other pastures.

So here’s the question: how come if all we ever do is complain about those seders, we miss them so much?


Posted on March 30, 2004 at 10:30 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink
In: General Topics, Holidays, Passover, Uncategorized

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