For many in the frum community- Pesach is a time of family, friends and getting close to secular Jews- that they otherwise would rarely have in their homes. In fact Pesach seems to be the only Jewish holiday in which secular Jews celebrate with their religious counterparts at the same meal. On Rosh Hashanah, you always have the old ladies with white doilies being dropped off by their husbands in Buicks, who always seem to be wearing huge space age sunglasses. On Yom Kippur everyone both secular and religious join together in davening, but in an impersonal Kol Nidre sort of way, there really is no meal- and if there is, I doubt any frum people will be there. Succos, shavuos, and most any other holiday with a Yuntiff portion- just gets passed by and rarely is celebrated with both sides- the black velvet and the white satin teepee yarmulke wearing crowd.
Then all the sudden you are at the seder, right next to them. No longer are you sitting in shul waiting for Boruch Ben Chris to figure out which name to use when he gets called to the torah “but that is my fathers name he keeps repeating.” Close quarters are always interesting, especially in our day and age when anything can happen.
I noticed the Rabbi at one of the places I went to was pouring out a bunch of bottles of perfectly good wine. All the sudden we were back in the days of the prohibition and Eliot Ness was coming to bust our little moon shining operation, in fact I now understood why Chabad was not around in the 1920’s, for they would have had to pay protection fees to the Mob and we all know how well they work with non-Chabad organizations. I began to look around the room and noticed many sealed bottles of wine, and asked the Rabbi if the law would find them, or would we hide them like we did the last bottle of oil from the Greeks. “You idiot” its not because we are a dry county- “what do you think? We’re in Utah or something” The Rabbi spoke exasperated, its non mevushal wine- and with a 52% intermarriage rate- that means some of the wine was touched by non-Jews and maybe when all the real Jews were looking down- one of the infiltrators started doing crucifixions and made the wine possel. Ah, I did feel like at an idiot, and helped him pour the idolatrous wine down the drain.
I remember as a child that the second Pesach ended, as if the folks at shul were carrying their wallets the whole time- everyone on the upper west side- ran to H & H bagels on 80th and Broadway. I do not know if this scene still exists, as the center of the upper west side has shifted from the 70s to the 90s, but when I was a kid it was one big line of people dressed in jeans- and standing there from the minute the holiday was over. Don’t know about you folks, but I don’t really crave anything besides the concept of just buying anything at the grocery store- don’t even have to buy it, it’s the option I crave. Skip to the following situation.
I was sitting down and enjoying a conversation about bagging fourteeners (mountains over 14,000 feet in Colorado) when all the sudden a little kid no more then 3 years old and wearing overalls thrusts a gift in my face. It is a small Rubbermaid container filled with wheat crackers, I tried to stay cool, I tried to tell him that heterosexuals aren’t interested in Tupperware, but he just stood there waiting like a a junior yetzer harah for me to eat some chometz and prove I was gay- thus sending the angel of death straight down to sacrifice my soul- I kind of hoped it wasn’t with hot lead down my throat. In fact I was thinking about the Bes Din death penalties the other day, and the whole hot lead thing sounds like tzar belly chaim to me, throwing off a cliff with the stones would give the children something to do and hanging is so general , but hot lead kind of sucks.
Anyway, all the sudden I was staring intently at the small plastic air tight jar and thinking about it. No I was not thinking of Tupperware parties with a bunch of half naked men talking about their tan lines and Kenneth cole sweaters, I was thinking of chometz. I thought of dipping my fork into a pint of Ben and Jerrys, sprinkling my pizza with the preemptive oregano and grabing snickers bars off the impulse buy shelf that they place when you are waiting online for the cashier in training to get the price codes for Star Fruits from the manager named Yolanda. I never think about these things on Pesach, all I think about is if God will place some hot girls at my meals, and whether or not the food at one meal will be good enough to help me make it to the next. Suddenly the parents realized the kids mistake and retracted him from his “send me straight to hell” mission.
I do wonder what would happen if a guest brought a gift to a non-Chabad home- that was clearly not kosher. Would they take it and throw it out later, give it to their Hispanic helper, feed it to the dogs or shove it back in their hands and say that its Treife- while all the little Yankels and Shprintzes danced around and screamed Treife- in practice for a life of shabbos rioting and miscellaneous chillul Hashems. I must say that those Chabadnicks think quick, with regards to many things- especially embarrassing people.
Case in point, the little Triscuts devils parents brought a cake, I think they were all in on it. Who knows? It was kindly rejected, although it sat on a chair during the whole meal, and had I noticed it I may have had a look, I do love looking at and smelling food- even if I cant have it, after all food is my version of kosher pornography- you can look but you cant eat.
While I am on this point, one of my good buddies Chabad houses, features this one regular who is not Jewish. Unfortunately, he fails to tell people he isn’t Jewish, he has been converting for years and retains an air of mystery since he is clearly nuts- but most people just think its because he is in a state of perpetual crazy baal teshuva syndrome- he never graduated from BT and therefore bows like he is trying to break his back and davens like he is trying to provide wind for an unseen windfarm. Anyway, this fellow is always present when there are 9 people plus him- and most of the time people know, and when they don’t, well, you can just do one of these clenched teeth, tap on the shoulder “He isn’t Jewish.” Usually they get the point, but sometimes disaster strikes.
For instance one time, there were 9 men and him and one of the 9 men had been waiting to say Kaddesh, well out he busts his kaddesh and before we could stop him I notice the Rabbis 5 year old son sitting on a chair clutching a stone chumash. Got to love the quick thinking of these guys on the front lines.
Premature ending- due to my lack of conclusion.