Friday, 18 April 2008

Pass-over Passover

Passover is coming on Saturday night, and everyone is busy preparing. The main point of the holiday is to remember how Moses busted the Jews out of Egypt. (They tried to kill us, we won; let's eat!)

The main way we remember, is by not eating leavened bread, because when the Jews escaped from the Pharaoh, they didn't have time to let their bread rise. Not only did they wander lost in the desert for ages, they didn't even have good Pita!

So, here we are, thousands of years after making this miraculous escape, and we keep eating Matzoh, so as to remember it. Let's be perfectly honest; matzoh is horrible stuff. it's like the driest, most flavourless, revolting, dry, tasteless, dehydrated, dry cracker you've ever eaten. Did I mention it's also dry and has no taste?

Okay, I get it, there's a religious significance, and during the Seder (the long feast we eat on the opening night of Passover, where we read this long story about how the Jews escaped Egypt), we're supposed to eat several pieces. But does it have to be the only bread-product we eat all week?

Haven't the Jewish people suffered enough?!

Anyway, I digress; the thing I wanted to talk about, is the extent Jews have to go to, in order to make sure they don't eat anything leavened.

You have to clean out all your cupboards, and throw away anything that contains Hametz; wheat, rye, barley, oats or spelt (and just for good measure, also corn and rice), and anything that might be fermented. So after you've thrown away all your food, you have to clean the whole kitchen really well, just to make sure no crumbs remain, and then boil all your dishes in a deep vat for a long time, to make sure no traces remain.

If you can imagine the enormity of this job, consider that supermarkets and food manufacturers also must comply; they have to throw away all their stocks of food, and clean their machinery, under the observation of a rabbi.

Of course, no one is really doing this. Most secular Jews are doing a somewhat half-assed job, by putting all their hametz food into one cupboard, high up, and pretending it's not there.

The big food manufacturers, and all the supermarkets, have a deal with this one Arab family. They leave all the food in it's place, but shut the doors on it till after Passover, and they sell it to this Arab family. Who knows how much for. Then at the end of the week, they buy it all back again. So for the week, nothing has changed, the food is all still in it's place, life goes on, but legally the food is owned by the Arabs, and therefore, it's all Kosher.

Lately this has gone one step further, with websites like this one offering to buy people's hametz from them, and then sell it back after a week. Of course, all the food stays in your pantry at home, and I don't think anyone checks if you have a little nibble while no one's looking.

It is just another way in which the Jews go to extraordinary lengths to circumvent Jewish law and still remain Kosher.


  1. Wow, thank you so much for explaining this. I've always been fascinated with Jewish culture and traditions but it's hard to understand from the outside ;) Hope you're having fun!

  2. Happy Passover! For a good time, drop by Manischewitzville at makes me want to be Jewish!


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