Archive for April, 2007

Passover – only 4 questions?

I may have mentioned that Passover is one of the more interesting holidays for our family to celebrate.  We’re currently at Day 6 out of 8 days and our household is full of questions, and a small rebellion is brewing, plotting to make french toast for dinner tonight.

So – here are a few of the questions that have been bounced about in the past 24 hours.  There are far more than the usual 4 questions that anyone who celebrates this holiday is familiar with.  These questions are written with a bit of sarcasm in places and a little bit of snark in others (hey, I haven’t had bread for 6 days, what do you think you would be like?) but they are not meant to belittle the religion (or any other).  They are meant to make you think.  Why are you doing what you are doing?  And if you choose to disregard all of this and say “I just do it because it keeps me in touch with my faith” than that’s as good a reason as any.  I guess… 🙂

Wheat is banned, right?  Why is matzah made with wheat?  How can they do that and still follow the rules?  And don’t give me any crap about “well the Rabbis blessed it so it’s okay”.  And don’t give me any crap about “well, the process is carefully supervised and water only touches wheat for less than 18 minutes so no leavening takes place” because then I’ll ask you this – so what?  They’re still using wheat.  Why is it banned?  And who came up with 18 minutes?  We know that 18 is chai (good luck) but what’s the connection there?  What science tells you that after 18 minutes, leavening begins?  And based on what I know about food science, it’s not leavening you’re worried about – it should be gluten formation.  Flour and water won’t rise unless you add a leavening agent to it – trust me.  All you end up with is glue.  Remember?  You made it in elementary school.

You may counter this with, “it’s not really wheat, spelt, oats, barley and rye that are banned – it’s their leavened products that are, based on the fact that they came in contact with water for longer than 18 minutes” and I’m still going to ask, what does this have to do with bread?  The basic story (emphasis on story) is that the Jews didn’t have time to let their bread rise.  They had to get outta town in a hurry.  So then why is pasta and cereal not allowed.  And you’ll counter with the whole 18 mins to make it deal and we’ll go around and around.

If the whole idea is that Jews didn’t have any bread, why are kitniyot banned (legumes – peas, corn)?  What does corn on the cob have to do with bread?

Rather than make this holiday a punitive one (ie. removing something from one’s diet), why not insist that matzah be served and eaten at every meal?  That would remind us far more of the desert crossing than eliminating bread, which we don’t eat at every meal anyway.

How come Sephardic Jews can eat rice but Ashkenazi can’t?  What – you didn’t all cross the desert at some point and so only some of you can eat rice?

So, rice, beans, peas, corn, legumes are all banned because flour can be made with them and their flours may be confused with one of the 5 banned grain flours.  What?  Are we living in the stoneage here?  In these modern times of food labelling (a novel concept) shouldn’t these be allowed for all Jews?

Did you know that Easter gets its name from Passover/Pesach? 

Have to give up something for 8 days, eh?  What’s that called – Jewish Lent?

Search for the Afikomen?  Isn’t that like an easter egg hunt only instead of finding chocolate, you find matzah and get money from your Jewish parents/grandparents?

What’s up with Matzo balls?  They have to be cooked for 20 minutes and the go into soup (a primarily water-based liquid).  So you’ve taken matzah and made it chametz (forbidden) by putting it into soup?  If not, why?

If you can’t eat pasta and pancakes, how come they sell Kosher for Passover (KFP) pancake mix and pasta?

Why do they make KFP toilet paper, coke/diet coke, honey and other products that you just know didn’t come in contact with any leavening agents?  How much of a business is Passover, anyway?  Who sets the rules?  Rabbis.  Rabbinical interpretation of the rules differs from community to community.  Who sets the standards that KFP products must meet? Rabbis.  So, Rabbis set the rules and then interpret them for the community and to help meet the standards they set out, they work with businesses (get paid by businesses?) to oversee production and give out their stamp of approval.

 Why are there so many ways to spell matza/matzah/matzo/matzoh?  It’s enough to drive a spelling fanatic crazy.

Sources: How to Run a Traditional Jewish Household by Blu Greenberg, 1983, Simon and Schuster Inc.; Wikipedia “Easter”,

Historical Proof: To date, there are no official Egyptian archeological findings that specifically corroborate the Torah narrative of the Exodus.  There are minor hints to major upheavals which could refer to the Plagues. However, ancient Egypt had a history of erasing major defeats and devastation from their records which makes a significant find unlikely.


Proof the exodus occured:


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