March 31, 2010
I didn’t forget Passover. I just forgot to write about Passover, which is what I am remedying in this vary post. Monday posts usually reflect on the past weekend like this Monday’s post did. Yesterday, I found pictures of Kristen Stewart at the premiere of Remember Me. I thought to myself, “Self, you know what these people like? Pictures of Kristen Stewart and humorous dialogue featuring Kristen Stewart. They also like the Isley Brothers.” Apparently, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
This past Monday and Tuesday nights were the great Jewish holiday of PASSOVER. You all non-Jews may remember Passover from the Charlton Heston movie The Ten Commandments. Remember all those scenes where the Egyptians are getting their comeuppances? Well, that is Passover. You may also remember Passover from another piece of pop-culture, do you remember this fella’ named “Jesus”? There is a famous painting of him entitled along the lines of “The Final Dinner” or something similar, which preceded Jesus getting killed by the Eye-talians. Well, Jee-zus was celebrating Passover with his amigos.
Passover focuses on the story of the Jews escaping from the tyranny of the Pharaohs in Egypt, the 40 year journey on foot out of Egypt, and eventually making it to the tropical beaches with coconut trees in nowadays Israel. To celebrate you read out loud the Haggadah which is more or less a how-to-guide to doing a Passover Seder, play some story related games, and eat specific foods. You do the same thing pretty much two nights in a row and you do it every year. So, at this point I’ve heard/read the story at least a few dozen times and I still have a lot of the same thoughts/questions concerning it. And take a wild guess, but I’m going to share those thoughts/questions with you all – whether or not you respond in the comments section. Today I will talk about “names” in the Haggadah and the “plagues”.
The story of Passover is pretty great. As mentioned, many of the best scenes in The Ten Commandments are from Passover, and we all know that The Ten Commandments kicks fucking ass. Not to discount the name Moses because it is a great name, but there are tons of great names in the Passover story. Mostly the names you are dealing with are names of Rabbis who helped compile the Mishnah or the first major written redaction of the Jewish oral traditions. Some of these Rabbi names are Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Tarphon.
The brilliance of the Passover service is that you are reading this at home out loud. In doing so the pronunciation of these unique names and other unique words/phrases are pretty questionable. For instance these Rabbis above appear together in the Haggadah because they’re all sitting around talking in a place called B’nei Berak. So maybe it gets read at my house as Rabbi “Ee-laser” is hanging out in “Benny Barack”. Benny Barack sounds like a pretty cool place. It’s where the kids smoke hookas and drink ginseng laced cocktails. They play all the hip music at Benny Barack from Lady Gaga to Phoenix.
Hey man, I was at Benny Barack on Thursday with Rabbi “Tar-fawn” and guess who showed up? Julian Casablancas from The Strokes! I know it was crazy. He played some new jams which were cool and then he ended it with an amazing version of “Last Nite” off of Is This It? Great times.
The Haggadah does not go into why any of these Rabbis were seen as such scholars. It really just mentions them as scholars and you take their word for it. I have a theory why people respected their opinion back then and why we continue to – the names sound badass! If you were given the opportunity to either follow a Rabbi Eliezer or a Rabbi Dave then I’m saying Rabbi Dave will have a lonesome crowd. Rabbi “Ellie-Ay-Zer” just sounds way more powerful than “Dave”.
“Listen up people, there is a great debate going on over something pertaining to something with Moses, ok? So the debate is between Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Dave.”
“Eliezer is right.”
“Excuse me? You haven’t heard the debate yet. I only had a chance to tell you who the debate was between and-
“Come on. Dave? Dave!?! Fuck Dave. Eliezer is a cool sounding guy. And cool people are always right.”
And that person would be correct. Fuck Dave. Eliezer does sound like a cool guy and guess what he is a cool guy. Where as Dave? Remember, fuck Dave. No one dismisses Eliezer that way. No one says “fuck Eliezer”.
My favorite name in the Haggadah is most definitely Rabbi Jose the Galilean. I know that you are not supposed to pronounce his name Rabbi “Hoe-Zay” like he is a Mexican caballero, but how can you not!?! I think you are supposed to say Rabbi “Yo-se” or something similar with the “y” sound, but screw that. Given the opportunity to either say “Yose” or “Jose” then you say “Jose”. In my mind, Rabbi Jose is dressed very similarly to every other Rabbi except he wears a sombrero and maybe carries a revolver. Ok, maybe I picture Rabbi Jose as Eli Wallach from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Maybe just maybe. Is that a crime!?! No, I do not think it is a crime.
Who says I’m wrong? Galilean? Galilee? So many places’ names have changed throughout the years. How do people know exactly where any of these guys are from? Who says Galilee isn’t really nowadays Cancun, Mexico? Crazier things have happened. Crazier things have happened in the very pages of the book you are reading when you run past Rabbi Jose from “South of the Border” with his pistolas.
The Ten Plagues
Blood, frogs, lice, wild beasts, pestilence, boils, hail, locust, darkness, slaying of the first-born.
These are the ten plagues that God brought upon the Egyptians. They all suck. I’m not going to lie- each one of these plagues suck. If you were only hit with one of these plagues then you would just write that year off. Summer of ’99 I was plagued by wild beasts, I don’t fucking talk about 1999 ever. I couldn’t imagine being hit by all 10! Man that would suck. Suck is a pretty big understatement, but I think it summarizes the suckiness being plagued by something would be.
So blood – in The Ten Commandments they show the “blood” as all the fresh water turns to blood. Woof, that would suck. Could you imagine you’re out for a jog and you go to take a big swig of Gatorade and instead it is blood? Ugh that would suck. Blood is not a thirst quencher or a good source of electrolytes.
I think we can put frogs, lice and locust together. A few frogs, lice even or locusts aren’t that big of a deal. You could easily catch a few frogs and redistribute them somewhere else. Lice you just use chamomile lotion and burn your sheets. And locusts you can kill because all insects are asking for it in my opinion. Free reign on killing insects! But a “plague” amount of any of those things would suck. And then you don’t deal with one, but all three! You’re being chased around by frogs, scratching your skin raw from lice, and the locusts won’t shut up.
Pestilence and boils can be grouped together as well. Again, a plague amount of boils or pestilence would suck on its own let alone together. I think I can safely say in a society that is ridden with boils and/or pestilence that NO ONE IS GETTING LAID. I think even if the rivers were filled with blood, there are regular frog attacks, and locusts are making noise that people would still find time for some between the sheets action or even through a hole in the sheet action. Even lice!?! I think once you have lice and so does the other person that you can get back to banging. I’m pretty sure if one person has crabs and if another person has crabs that nothing is really preventing them from doing it. But boils! No one is fucking anyone else covered with boils. The pestilence is pretty obvious too. Once boils and pestilence hit Egypt there was zero sex drive through out the land.
I’m not entirely sure about the vagueness of “wild beasts”, but let’s just all agree that being attacked by anything that is referred to as a “wild” “beast” would SUCK. “Beast” is a word people use to describe big, scary and tough – add in “wild” and no one is happy. There is no way you can downplay the sentence “you might get attacked by a wild beast outside”. That is a panic switch phrase.
Again, “darkness” and “hail” are not the best in the idea of a plague amount of them. I think the two compliment each other insanely well in terms of torturing the Egyptians. If you needed to get around in the “darkness” what would be the last thing you would want? Probably ice rocks falling from the sky that you cannot see pelting you. Also the wild beasts thing would suck added with the darkness. Not only is it tough to see outside, but there is a high percentage chance waiting in that darkness is a jungle cat poising to strike and a mess of ice rocks falling from the sky. Great.
And, of course, this is all leading up to the tenth and final plague “slaying of the first-born”. That would suck.
Counting of the Plagues against the Egyptians
Jews don’t really get much chance to gloat when reliving their history. Passover is kind of the big chance to rub it in. Following the mention of the ten plagues is a discussion about how many other plagues God dealt the Egyptians. It starts out with the initial 10 that are noted and later in the Red Sea the Egyptians were hit with 50 plagues. The next few pages is more or less a battle of semantics over how much the Egyptians got their asses handed to them by God with his hilarious plagues. It is really kind of a moot point they are making because either way the Egyptians got the shit kicked out of them.
They try to devise a rubric assigning numbers to certain phrases from the Bible. For instance:
For it is said: “He sent against them the fierceness of His anger, fury, and indignation, and trouble, a band of evil angels”: `Fury,’ is one; `Indignation,’ makes two; `Trouble,’ makes three; `a band of evil angels,’ makes four.
So with this logic you multiply these 4 by the 10 plagues in Egypt means they got hit by 40 plagues. Also, this means in the Red Sea – 4 x 50 plagues – they got hit by 200 plagues. In this calculation the Egyptians got FUCKING TROUNCED BY PLAGUES! But there is another school of thought:
For it is said: “He sent against them the fierceness of His anger, fury, and indignation, and trouble, a band of evil angels”: “the fierceness of His anger,” is one; “fury,” makes two; “indignation,” makes three; “trouble,” makes four; “a band of evil angels,” makes five. Thus you must now say that in Egypt they were struck by fifty plagues, and at the sea they were stricken by two hundred and fifty plagues.
So this means that, God WHOOPED THE SHIT OUT OF THE EGYPTIANS MERCILESSLY! I’m not really sure why this debate is needed except to really laugh at how motherfucking badly the Egyptians got torn up by plagues. Seriously, if God hit you with one plague it would suck. If God hit you with 10 plagues it would suck that much more. And now these two Rabbis are arguing whether or not these people were hit by 200 or 250? Yo bro, they’re dead regardless. Those people got fucked up.
200 plagues? 250 plagues? Who is counting? It’s over. Did the San Francisco 49ers beat the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX by three touchdowns or four? Who cares? They got destroyed. It wasn’t close at all.
And finally, doesn’t everyone want to start a band now called “A Band of Evil Angels”? I know I do. Also, I’m sure it would have SUCKED getting attacked by “a band of evil angels”. For one, THEY’RE ANGELS! A plural amount of ANGELS are attacking you. And two, THEY’RE EVIL! I’m just saying, I own a bass guitar and “A Band of Evil Angels” needs to happen.