Passover: The 11th Plague

By David Himmel

This is an important week for those who celebrate and follow the traditions of the Judeo-Christian Way. This week marks what Christians call Holy Week and what Jews call the week they can’t “enjoy a goddam Jimmy Johns sandwich.”

Holy Week began yesterday with Palm Sunday, and will extend to Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday. Tonight, Passover begins and will last until next Tuesday. The story of Easter is well known. It is the culmination of the life of Jesus Christ who winds up dying for our sins, lays dead for a few days then sneaks out of his tomb and ascends to heaven where he can allegedly, though I don’t believe it, influence people to blow up health clinics and in some better parts of town, feed the hungry.

Passover, we know, is the story of how Moses with the help of his brother Aaron and the teenage wrath of a young and vengeful God, saw to it that Ancient Egypt’s Pharaoh emancipated the Hebrew slaves.

Riveting stories, both of them. Movies have been made about both. There is, of course, The 10 Commandments, which tells the story of Passover, and there’s Passion of the Christ, which more or less, tells the story of Easter. But I feel that Charlton Heston did too good of a job glazing over some of the uglier parts of the Passover story in exchange for beautifying the horror of it all. This was not an uncommon practice in the 1950s.

So, as many people sit down to the Seder table tonight to celebrate Passover, we should not forget what the holiday is celebrating.

Moses makes his move.

Moses makes his move.

It’s the story of an abandoned baby being rescued from a river and claimed without any proper adoption process. That man growing up as a prince, murdering a subject of the royal family, burying the body and fleeing town to avoid prosecution returning only to inflict terror on the Egyptian people before he takes part in the systematic slaughter of a race of sleeping innocent children. This leads to the release of the Hebrews, thus beginning the forty years of wandering the desert without enough food or water in hopes of finding the land God promised they could have, only to be met with resistance by the people who were already there—God sort of having promised the land to them as well. God, it seems, is a bit of an Indian giver.

This last part—God’s two-timing—is not part of the Passover story but it is the origin of the thousands and thousands of years of Middle East wars, terrorism, and religious and racial hatred that continues to plague our planet. It is in a way, the eleventh plague. Moses and God didn’t think this through proving that they could have both been fitting additions to the current Trump Administration.

Oh, yes, Passover is also the story of the horrors of slavery and oppression. Even though the world did get some pretty fascinating pyramids out of it.

Happy Passover. Be sure to leave some hooch for Elijah. Just don’t tell his sponsor.